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Washington baseball program provided impermissible recruiting benefits

Staff paid airfare of prospects’ parents

Donwload the Oct. 2020 University of Washington Public Infractions Decision

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The University of Washington baseball program committed recruiting violations when it paid for the travel of parents accompanying prospects on official visits, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The impermissible payment of airfare resulted from the university’s failure to monitor recruiting travel in its baseball program.

In total, the baseball staff impermissibly arranged for and paid $7,795 in airfare for 23 parents of 14 prospects, according to the committee. Three of the prospects later became student-athletes at the university and competed prior to the school seeking reinstatement, resulting in them competing while ineligible.

The committee said the violations occurred as a result of a lack of understanding between the compliance office and the baseball program following a compliance education session in which coaches were reminded that schools can pay travel expenses only for FBS football and basketball official visits.

Two assistant coaches told the head coach that the program could begin paying airfare for parents to accompany prospects on official visits, contrary to the information provided during the session. The head coach asked the assistant coaches to confirm if the payments were allowed with compliance. A former assistant coach told the head coach he checked with the compliance staff and confirmed the payments were allowed; however, the committee said there is no documentation of the conversation or approval.

The university did not establish an adequate system for ensuring NCAA official visit transportation rules were followed and did not provide adequate rules education to key staff members involved in managing travel, according to the committee. The administration of the recruiting travel process included two steps: a preapproval process and a post-visit reconciliation. According to the committee, both the preapproval and post-visit reconciliation processes had critical gaps and failed to prevent and detect the violations.   

 “The violations reflected weaknesses in the university’s monitoring of recruiting travel administration and related education,” the committee said in its decision. “In turn, this permitted violations to occur over three academic years.”

The committee classified the case as Level II-Mitigated for the university. The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • A limit of 18 official paid visits for the 2020-21 academic year from a total of 25 allowed annually.
  • 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.

Due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hearing for this case was held virtually. Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Carol Cartwright, chief hearing officer for the panel and president emeritus at Kent State and Bowling Green; Thomas Hill, senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Vincent Nicastro, deputy commissioner and chief operating officer for the Big East Conference; and Joseph D. Novak, former head football coach at Northern Illinois.