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Stephen F. Austin State University lacked institutional control over certification process

Download the May 2020 Stephen F. Austin Negotiated Resolution Agreement

Stephen F. Austin State University lacked institutional control when it improperly certified the academic eligibility for 82 student-athletes in nine sports, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

The university and the NCAA enforcement staff said the violations occurred when progress-toward-degree rules were not applied correctly to student-athlete certifications.

The agreement said the primary issue in the university’s former academic certification process was its failure to consider the degree applicability of transfer credits when certifying transfer student-athletes’ eligibility. While the transfer student-athletes largely met NCAA transfer rules, they failed to meet progress-toward-degree requirements.

The university was found to lack institutional control because it did not adequately monitor and control the athletics eligibility certification process, failed to properly apply academic certification rules and did not involve staff members from outside of athletics in the certification process. The agreement also noted the university did not withhold ineligible student-athletes from competition and did not promptly detect and report the certification violations to the NCAA.

This case was processed through the negotiated resolution process. It was used because the university and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the Association and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases.

The university and the enforcement staff used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions guidelines to agree upon Level I-mitigated penalties for the university. Those and other penalties, approved by the Committee on Infractions, are detailed below:

  • Three years of probation.
  • A fine of $5,000, plus 0.5% of the budgets for the football and baseball programs.
  • The university must return 50% of its share of units awarded based on the men’s basketball team participation in the 2015-16 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
  • A 5% reduction in baseball scholarships during either the 2020-21 or 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction of one total men’s basketball counter during either the 2020-21 or 2021-22 academic year.
  • A 2.5% reduction in football scholarships during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
  • A vacation of records of contests in which student-athletes participated while ineligible. 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 release of the decision.
  • The university must submit to an NCAA Academic Performance Plan data review with NCAA academic and membership staff.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case were Bobby Cremins, former head men’s basketball coach at Appalachian State, Georgia Tech and College of Charleston; Thomas Hill, chief hearing officer for this case and senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; and E. Thomas Sullivan, president emeritus of Vermont.