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Mississippi Valley failed to monitor its certification process

Download the 2017 MVSU Public Infractions Decision

Mississippi Valley did not monitor its certification process when it improperly certified the eligibility of 28 student-athletes in seven sports, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. A former head cross country coach also acted unethically when she directed three student-athletes to compete under the names of eligible student-athletes before the university completed its certification process for them.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and participating parties must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing.

The certification violations were discovered by the university through an NCAA Academic Performance Program audit. The panel found the university misapplied eligibility rules, did not certify the academic credentials of its student-athletes and did not verify the amateurism certification of student-athletes. The violations resulted from staff turnover and the inability to replace individuals in compliance, academic services and the registrar’s office. Inadequate education and training on the certification process also contributed to the violations.

The panel also found the former head cross country coach acted unethically when she knew three student-athletes' eligibility was still pending, but allowed them to compete because she thought the university would ultimately certify them for competition. Ultimately, two of the student-athletes did not meet certain eligibility requirements and the third withdrew from the university.

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

  • Public reprimand and censure for the university.
  • Two years of probation from March 24, 2017, through March 23, 2019.
  • A one-year show-cause period for the former cross country coach from March 24, 2017, through March 23, 2018. During that period, the former coach’s current school or any NCAA member employing her must provide monthly one-on-one rules education. Her current employer or any other NCAA member school that employs her during the period should continue to conduct compliance initiatives with her and she must attend one of the 2017 NCAA Regional Rules seminars.
  • A vacation of records in which improperly certified student-athletes participated while ineligible. The university will identify the games impacted following the release of the public report. 
  • A $5,000 fine.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Britton Banowsky, chief hearing officer for the panel and executive director of the College Football Playoff Foundation; Melissa Conboy, deputy director of athletics at Notre Dame; and Vincent Nicastro, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer for the Big East Conference.