Southeastern Louisiana University incorrectly certified the eligibility of student-athletes and demonstrated a lack of control over its athletics department, according to a decision announced today by the Division I Committee on Infractions. Over a five-year period, the university declared 137 student-athletes in all 16 sports eligible for practice, competition and scholarships when the student-athletes should have been declared academically ineligible. The university did not monitor the eligibility certification process, resulting in a lack of control over its athletics department.
Penalties in this case include a four-year probation period, scholarship reductions, a vacation of records and an outside audit of the university’s rules compliance system.
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 use the summary disposition process instead of having a formal hearing.
The certification issues began when the former compliance coordinator misunderstood progress-toward-degree requirements and did not ensure all the courses passed by student-athletes could be counted toward the hours necessary to receive the General Studies degree. These miscalculations resulted in a significant number of student-athletes participating while ineligible. When the former compliance coordinator left the university, the next compliance coordinator did not understand the certification system used by the previous coordinator and stated his concerns with the certification process to the former athletics director. Staff turnover continued and an associate athletics director then assumed the certification responsibilities. The former associate athletics director also stated concerns with the certification process and the lack of involvement by other university departments.
Southeastern Louisiana lacked control over its athletics department when it failed to monitor its certification process. Staff Members from outside the athletics department were not involved in the certification process, creating a lack of checks or other oversight to detect errors within its certification process. The university used an automated degree audit system as the primary source for certification information, but the system was not programmed to confirm NCAA eligibility. Adding to the university’s problems, the committee said, the former compliance coordinator’s misunderstanding of certain eligibility and university degree rules resulted in incorrect certifications. When two staff members voiced concerns about the certification progress, the university did not take steps to investigate and correct the situation.
Penalties and measures include:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Four years of probation from Dec. 10, 2013 through Dec. 9, 2017.
- Scholarship reductions for baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country/track and field, men’s golf, softball, soccer and volleyball. The public report further details the reductions.
- A vacation of wins from 2005-06 through 2009-10 in which ineligible student-athletes competed. The public report contains further details.
- Completion of an external audit, including an evaluation of eligibility monitoring, scholarship awarding and monitoring, rules education and the monitoring of recruiting activities.
- A fine of $25,000.
The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA; John Black, attorney; Greg Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Roscoe Howard Jr., attorney; James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; and Greg Sankey executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference.