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Illinois College failed to monitor its athletics program; coach cited for unethical conduct

Illinois College failed to monitor its athletics program and the head football coach was cited for unethical conduct for providing false information, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. The three involved coaches also failed to establish an atmosphere for compliance in football, men’s and women’s swimming and men’s golf programs. Penalties for the college include three years of probation and recruiting restrictions. The three involved coaches each received a two-year show-cause order, which specifies how their athletically related duties should be limited.

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, university and involved individuals must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be utilized instead of having a formal hearing.

From the 2008-09 academic year through 2010-11, the head football coach and two of his assistant coaches, who also served as head coaches for the swimming and men’s golf programs, sent 515 impermissible text messages to 81 prospective student-athletes. Of particular concern to the committee was the fact that the coaches had been educated on the relevant rules, knew text messages were impermissible, and yet chose to commit the violations.

According to the committee’s findings, by knowingly violating the rules, the head football coach conveyed to his assistants that compliance with the texting rules was not important or necessary. Because of this, the head football coach failed to establish proper atmosphere for rules compliance within his program. The two involved assistant coaches also failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when they utilized impermissible recruiting text messages in their roles as head coaches for swimming and men’s golf.

In September 2010, the college’s president received an anonymous letter regarding issues in the football program. The director of athletics then asked the head football coach if he had sent text messages to recruits and the head coach denied sending text messages before the prospects submitted their initial enrollment deposits. By providing false and misleading information to the director of athletics, the head football coach’s actions constituted unethical conduct.

After the football head coach falsely stated that he only sent texts at permissible times, the director of athletics did not conduct any follow up. The committee notes that once the director of athletics received specific information, a duty arose to conduct a full investigation into the matter. Simply asking the head coach if he had committed any violations, and accepting his answer, was not sufficient. Because of the insufficient response, the school and the athletics director failed to monitor the athletics program.

The penalties include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation, from August 24, 2012, through August 23, 2015.
  • A two-year show cause order for the head football coach. The public report contains further details.
  • The head coach and former assistant coach: served a suspension from football coaching duties for one week; lost one week’s pay coinciding with the terms of the suspension; were prohibited from off-campus recruiting for nine months; attended at an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar; served a one game suspension during the football season; and served a two-day practice suspension during football season (Self-imposed by the college).
  • Two-year show cause order for each of the involved assistant coaches. The public report contains further details.
  • The director of athletics must attend two NCAA Regional Rules Seminars during the three years of the college’s probation.
  • Off-campus recruiting by all football coaches was prohibited from November 1, 2011, through August 1, 2012 (Self-imposed by the college).
  • Off-campus recruiting by the men’s golf and men’s swimming coaches was prohibited from November 1, 2011, through August 1, 2012 (Self-imposed by the college).
  • Football, men’s swimming and men’s golf coaches are prohibited from sending text messages for the purpose of recruiting from September 1, 2012, through April 30, 2012 (Self-imposed by the college).

 

The members of the Division III Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Keith Jacques, chair and attorney at Woodman, Edmands, Danylik, Austin, Smith and Jacques; Dave Cecil, director of financial aid at Transylvania State; Amy Elizabeth Hackett, director of athletics at University of Puget Sound; Nancy Meyer, director of women’s athletics at Calvin College; and Garnett Purnell, athletics director at Wittenberg University.