University of Connecticut men’s basketball student-athlete Ryan Boatright has been cleared to compete immediately, the NCAA announced today.
This situation involves many of the specific concerns expressed by NCAA membership regarding improper third party influence over student-athletes and their families. Specifically, it included more than $8,000 in cash and other impermissible benefits, including a car. These benefits – which are not allowed because they are inconsistent with the principles and values embraced by the NCAA membership – were provided to Mr. Boatright and his mother both before and while he was at UConn. These impermissible benefits were provided by at least two individuals linked to nonscholastic basketball and professional sports.
Mr. Boatright was granted limited immunity by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, a committee comprised of NCAA members. The limited immunity allowed him to avoid missing a significant number of games and repaying the impermissible benefits. It was granted in an effort to gather information regarding third party involvement. Limited immunity is an important yet selectively used tool for the enforcement staff to gather information that would not otherwise be available.
The timeline is below:
- Early October 2011: UConn and the NCAA enforcement staff began interviewing individuals and collecting documentation based on numerous credible allegations indicating that several impermissible benefits had been provided to the student-athlete and his mother. The source of the allegations had also provided a significant amount of documentation to substantiate the claims.
- Early November 2011: The NCAA enforcement staff agreed with UConn that the student-athlete should not be allowed to compete based on the evidence collected as of that date. While all the relevant information requested from his mother had not been received, the NCAA agreed with UConn that it was in the best interests of the student-athlete to go ahead and process the known violations while waiting for the other requested records.
- November 18, 2011: Mr. Boatright was reinstated by the NCAA with the condition of a six game withholding and repayment of $4,500 in impermissible benefits to charity. UConn had declared Mr. Boatright ineligible for preferential treatment violations from two different individuals. The impermissible benefits included travel expenses for his mother during four official visits to NCAA schools and approximately $1,200. In addition, Mr. Boatright was provided travel expenses, hotel, meals and training expenses during a two-night trip to California.
- November 26, 2011: Mr. Boatright returns to competition.
- January 11, 2012: Mr. Boatright’s mother, through her attorney, provided additional requested documents.
- January 13, 2012: After a review of those records, the NCAA enforcement staff and UConn confirmed that an inappropriate source had been making car payments on behalf of Mr. Boatright’s mother as had been originally reported by the source. At this time, UConn decided to withhold him from competition.
- January 16, 2012: After considering all of the facts and circumstances known at that time, including the fact that the student-athlete was likely the least culpable actor, the enforcement staff extended an offer of immunity to the student-athlete conditioned on full, complete and truthful cooperation by the student-athlete and his mother in pursuing the remaining allegations.
- January 17 and 19, 2012: To clarify some remaining concerns, Mr. Boatright and his mother were re-interviewed by the NCAA enforcement staff and UConn representatives.
- January 27, 2012, 7 p.m.: Both the student-athlete and his mother sent the enforcement staff additional records.
- January 28, 2012 at 2 p.m.: After reviewing the additional records, the enforcement staff notified the university that the NCAA staff believed that the student-athlete and his mother had fulfilled the conditions of immunity and therefore, the student-athlete was again eligible for competition.
The NCAA has issued the following statement in response to allegations made by Scott Tompsett, a lawyer representing the Boatright family.
Scott Tompsett’s allegations are not accurate. The NCAA statement regarding Ryan Boatright is factual and in response to numerous public misstatements and the resulting inaccurate reporting by some media. The NCAA acted appropriately to ensure the misleading accounts did not continue. The NCAA did not violate the student-athlete or family’s privacy in any way, nor did it imply that the benefits were used to influence Ryan Boatright to attend the University of Connecticut.
In fact, both UConn and Mr. Boatright should be commended for their cooperation throughout the process to gather information. The school and student-athlete’s dedication to uncover the facts should be viewed as a positive example, not somehow construed negatively. Had Ms. Boatright cooperated fully from the beginning, this matter could have been settled months ago.