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NCAA appeals committee upholds vacation of Notre Dame wins

Download the Feb. 2018 University of Notre Dame Infractions Appeals Decision

Notre Dame must vacate all records in which football student-athletes participated while ineligible during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 football seasons, according to a decision issued by the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.

In the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions’ decision, the panel found a former Notre Dame athletic training student violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct for two football student-athletes and provided six other football student-athletes with impermissible academic extra benefits. The panel prescribed the vacation of records, along with a probation period and a show-cause order for the former athletic training student.

In its appeal, the university argued the appeals committee should set aside the vacation of records penalty because the Committee on Infractions panel did not consider the primacy of the university’s role in addressing core academic matters.

In its decision, the appeals committee highlighted that as a member of the NCAA, the university is subject to the Association’s rules, including those related to academic misconduct and the ability to impose penalties for academic misconduct violations. In this case, the university acknowledged the academic misconduct impacted the eligibility of student-athletes and resulted

in student-athletes competing while ineligible. The appeals committee found the panel has the authority under NCAA rules to prescribe penalties for academic misconduct violations.

The university also argued that the penalty is excessive since there was no university involvement or knowledge of the academic conduct. The appeals committee confirmed that at the time of the violations, the athletic training student was considered a university employee under NCAA rules.

Lastly, the university argued that the panel process regarding the vacation of records penalty was not fair related to the panel’s notification and consideration of one of the violations. The appeals committee noted that the panel’s communication could have been clearer, but as a part of the infractions process, the university was given the opportunity to explain why it should not have to vacate records.  The appeals committee also stated that even if that particular violation was not considered, imposition of the vacation of wins would not have been an abuse of discretion given the other violations.

The members of the Infractions Appeals Committee who heard this case were Ellen Ferris, associate commissioner for governance and compliance at the American Athletic Conference; Jack Friedenthal, professor emeritus at George Washington; W. Anthony Jenkins, attorney in private practice; Patti Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at Texas; and David Williams, committee chair and vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director at Vanderbilt.