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Vacation of Brigham Young men’s basketball records upheld by Infractions Appeals Committee

Download the Sep. 2019 Brigham Young University Public Infractions Appeal Decision

The Brigham Young men’s basketball program must vacate wins in which a student-athlete participated while ineligible during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 men’s basketball 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 four Brigham Young boosters provided more than $12,000 in complimentary all-inclusive vacations, cash, meals, golf and the use of a car to a men’s basketball student-athlete in violation of NCAA rules.

In its appeal, the university argued it should not have to vacate the records because the Committee on Infractions applied an incorrect standard and misconstrued relevant case precedent; the penalty does not fit the violations; the Committee on Infractions based its decision on erroneous findings; and the Committee on Infractions did not appropriately apply the framework for prescribing the penalty. 

In response, the Committee on Infractions argued that it has the discretion to prescribe a vacation of records penalty in Level I and II infractions cases when a student-athlete participates in competition while ineligible. Further, the Committee on Infractions said the penalty was appropriate since the case involved many violations, including some that were serious and intentional. While the university said the initial violations leading to the student-athlete’s ineligibility were “less severe” and should not have resulted in a vacation of records, the Committee on Infractions argued the penalty was prescribed to address the competitive advantage gained by the university.

The university argued the penalty does not fit the violations because the administration and staff were not involved and had no knowledge of the violations. The Committee on Infractions responded that university involvement in or knowledge of a violation is not required for the vacation of records penalty.

The university said the Committee on Infractions ignored the findings of proper monitoring and cooperation in the summary disposition report and relied on its “own inconsistent findings” that the university failed to properly monitor or control the men’s basketball program when prescribing the penalty. However, the Committee on Infractions said it accepted the summary disposition report and did not penalize the university for a failure to monitor that did not exist.

In its decision, the appeals committee noted the participation of an ineligible student-athlete jeopardizes fair competition and provides the university with a competitive advantage. In this case, the university agreed that a student-athlete competed while ineligible. The appeals committee also reaffirmed the circumstances in which the likelihood of the prescription of a vacation of records penalty is significantly increased.  One of those circumstances is a large number of violations in an infractions case, which the university agreed occurred in this infractions case. 

Additionally, in reviewing case precedent, the Infractions Appeals Committee recognized that charging decisions and the circumstances of each case may be factually unique. Further, it said there is case precedent which supports the prescription of a vacation of records penalty even when a university’s administration and staff were not involved in or had knowledge of the violations.

The Infractions Appeals Committee recognized “…the negative impact that a vacation of records has on uninvolved staff and student-athletes, especially in the context of a team sport.”  “However, under the facts and circumstances in this case and existing standards,” the Infractions Appeals Committee “did not find the vacation of records penalty to be arbitrary, capricious or irrational.”

The members of the Infractions Appeals Committee who heard this case were Jonathan Alger, president at James Madison; Ellen M. Ferris, associate commissioner for governance and compliance at the American Athletic Conference; W. Anthony Jenkins, chair of the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee and attorney in private practice; Allison Rich, senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Princeton; and David Shipley, law professor and faculty athletics representative at Georgia.