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Houston commits academic and countable activity violations

Download the Dec. 2019 University of Houston Public Infractions Decision

A former University of Houston athletics department tutor committed academic misconduct, and the women’s volleyball program exceeded countable athletically related activity limits, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

The former tutor wrote four papers for two football student-athletes in exchange for money over a month and a half. As a result of the academic misconduct, one of the student-athletes competed while ineligible.

The committee noted that the former tutor acted out of self-interest and violated Houston’s academic misconduct policy. He failed to cooperate with the NCAA infractions process by refusing to participate in an interview with enforcement staff or take part in the summary disposition process.

The former head women’s volleyball coach, meanwhile, required student-athletes to participate impermissibly in summer camps and pre-practice activities. The student-athletes’ participation in what should have been voluntary activity resulted in impermissible out-of-season activity and exceeding in-season hourly limits.

The direct involvement of the former head women’s volleyball coach in the violations demonstrated that she did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within her program, the panel said. It noted that student-athletes recognized the potential violations but failed to report them to the compliance staff out of fear of retaliation from the head coach.

“Inherent in promoting an atmosphere of compliance is setting the proper tone throughout the program — from the head coach down,” the panel said in its decision. “That includes coaches, staff and student-athletes alike having the freedom to report concerns to compliance and athletics administration. A culture of secrecy and intimidation fails to meet the membership’s expectation of head coaches. Such actions threaten the core values of the Association and are detrimental to the student-athlete experience.”

The case was resolved through a cooperative summary disposition, a process where involved parties collectively submit the case to the committee in written form. All participating parties must agree to the facts of the case for this process to be used instead of having a formal hearing. Because the parties did not challenge the panel’s proposed penalties, there is no opportunity to appeal.

The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • An eight-year show-cause order for the former tutor. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
  • A two-year show-cause order for the former head coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing her must suspend her from 30% of contests during the first season in which she is hired.
  • A vacation of records in which the football student-athlete competed while ineligible (self-imposed by the university). The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public decision release.
  • A reduction in permissible women’s volleyball countable athletically related activity by two hours during the fall 2019 championship segment (self-imposed by the university).

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Michael F. Adams, president emeritus of Georgia; William Bock III, general counsel for the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and a partner with the law firm of Kroger, Gardis & Regas; Carol Cartwright, chief hearing officer for the panel and president emerita at Kent State and Bowling Green; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Joseph D. Novak, former head football coach at Northern Illinois; Roderick Perry, athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and E. Thomas Sullivan, president emeritus of Vermont.