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Oklahoma State commits violations

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Oklahoma State University did not follow its drug testing policy and the athletics department allowed the Orange Pride student group to participate in hosting prospects, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

This case stemmed from a series of articles published about alleged NCAA violations. The university alerted the NCAA to the allegations and a cooperative investigation began. More than 50,000 emails and other documents were reviewed and nearly 90 interviews of current and former student-athletes, coaches, staff and boosters were conducted. The investigation determined that many of the allegations from the series of articles were unfounded; however, the panel concluded that the university violated its drug testing policy and committed recruiting violations.

Penalties in this case include one year of probation, $8,500 in fines, suspension of the Orange Pride program and university-imposed recruiting restrictions.

From 2008 through 2012, the university did not follow its own written policies and procedures for students who tested positive for banned substances. NCAA rules require that if schools have a drug testing policy in place, it must include substances on the banned list and the school must follow its policy. The athletics director believed he had latitude in the application of the policy and deferred to the head football coach’s recommendation on whether to suspend student-athletes who failed a drug test. As a result, five football student-athletes competed in a total of seven games when they should have been withheld from competition.

Over the course of four years, the university’s Orange Pride program engaged in impermissible hosting activities during football prospects’ official and unofficial visits. The Orange Pride is an all-female group organized and directed by the football program to participate in hosting during recruiting events. NCAA rules do not allow the use of student hosts in a way that is inconsistent with the university’s policies on providing campus tours or visits to all prospective students. The panel was concerned with the university’s continued use of the group despite information distributed by the NCAA specifying that groups like Orange Pride for athletics recruiting was impermissible.

While decisions made by athletics staff in this case resulted in NCAA violations, the panel did not find that the university failed to monitor its football program.

Penalties and corrective actions self-imposed by the school and adopted by the panel include:

  • A one-year probation period from April 24, 2015 through April 23, 2016.
  • A $5,000 fine
  • A $3,500 fine representing $500 for each of the seven games in which a football student-athlete participated when he should have been withheld.
  • A limit of 30 official visits per year during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of coaches participating in off-campus evaluations by one (from 10 to nine in the fall and nine to eight in the spring) during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction in the number of evaluation days by 10 days in the fall and spring during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years (self-imposed by the university).
  • The school and football program may not use the Orange Pride program, and may not organize another student group to assist in recruiting prospects for four years.

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 Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer and athletics director at Xavier University; Bobby Cremins, former head basketball coach at Georgia Institute of Technology; Joel Maturi, former University of Minnesota athletics director; Jim O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; and Greg Sankey, chair of the Division I Committee on Infractions and executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference.