You are here

Samford failed to monitor its eligibility certification process

Download the Samford University Public Infractions Decision

Samford University failed to monitor its eligibility certification process, which resulted in improper certifications for student-athletes, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. For 4½ years, the university’s lack of a process to certify progress-toward-degree requirements allowed 33 student-athletes in eight sports to compete while ineligible.

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 and the university must agree to the facts and overall level of the case in order to use this process instead of a formal hearing.

The panel noted that the university could have avoided the violations if it would have provided adequate rules education, developed policies and procedures that detailed the shared responsibilities of eligibility certification and made the appropriate modifications after a previous infractions case. The registrar miscalculated student-athletes’ progress-toward-degree due to the lack of education.  Additionally, academic advisors misadvised student-athletes in some instances, resulting in student-athletes failing to enroll in enough degree-applicable credit hours to remain eligible. The university indicated that it did not have any checks on the progress-toward-degree certification process and that the athletics department was isolated from other campus departments.

The panel noted its concern with the similarity in why and how the violations occurred in this case and the university’s previous infractions case. While the violations were different, the previous case resulted from insufficient procedures, lack of communication between departments and misunderstanding NCAA rules. Additionally, a compliance review that was completed after the violations began encouraged the school to examine its process used for certifying continuing eligibility.

The violations involved student-athletes in the following programs: baseball; football; men’s basketball; men’s cross country; men’s tennis; men’s track and field; softball; and women’s soccer.

Penalties and corrective measures include the following:         

  • Public reprimand and censure for the university.
  • Three years of probation for the university from April 12, 2016, through April 7, 2019.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes participated while ineligible. After the release of the public report, the university will identify the games affected.
  • An independent, external review of the university’s compliance program within the next six months. The university must implement any recommendations made by the review before the conclusion of the second year of probation.
  • 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 Gregory Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Alberto Gonzales, dean of the law school at Belmont University and former attorney general of the United States; Joel Maturi, former University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, athletics director; Gary L. Miller, chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; Eleanor W. Myers, law professor at Temple University; Jill Pilgrim, attorney in private practice; and Gregory Sankey, chief hearing officer, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.