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Alabama A&M miscertified student-athletes

Download the Sep. 2018 Alabama A&M University Public Infractions Decision

Alabama A&M lacked institutional control when it improperly certified 101 student-athletes in nearly all of the university’s sport programs, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

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 participating individuals must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing. The panel held an expedited penalty hearing because the university did not agree with some of the panel’s proposed penalties.

The university’s certification process failed in several areas, the committee noted in its report. First, staff members lacked the necessary experience, rules education and training to complete certifications. Making proper certification even more difficult, the university provided little rules education to the registrar and those outside of athletics responsible for certifying eligibility. The university also did not involve the appropriate staff members from outside of athletics in the certification process. Lastly, the university did not correctly apply NCAA eligibility certification rules.

In addition to the 101 student-athletes who competed while ineligible, the university also did not withhold 60 of the student-athletes from the subsequent year’s competition before they were reinstated.

The panel noted that after the extensive and widespread certification failures, the university took meaningful corrective action after it learned of the violations. Although resources may present challenges to certification processes, it is a fundamental responsibility for Division I members. The panel added that members must ensure appropriately trained individuals certify student-athletes, certification involves appropriate touchpoints throughout the university, and that staff correctly apply NCAA rules.  

The panel used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Five years of probation from Sept. 11, 2018, through Sept. 10, 2023.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible.
  • A 2018-19 postseason ban for the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf teams.
  • Scholarship reductions for the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf teams.
  • Recruiting restrictions for the 2018-19 academic year, including:
    • A 13-week ban on unofficial visits and recruiting communications with prospects in all programs in which the violations occurred.
    • A 25 percent reduction in official paid visits in all programs in which the violations occurred.
    • A 13-week ban on all off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations in programs in which the violations occurred except for men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s golf and women’s volleyball.
    • A 25 percent reduction in recruiting or evaluation days for men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s golf and women’s volleyball.
  • The university may not recruit two-year college transfers who would enroll during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university), plus 1 percent of the annual budgets of the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf programs.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Carol Cartwright, chief hearing officer for this panel and president emerita of Kent State and Bowling Green; Jody Conradt, retired head women’s basketball coach and special assistant to athletics at Texas; Jason Leonard, executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma; Stephen A. Madva, attorney in private practice; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; and Joyce McConnell, provost and vice president for academic affairs at West Virginia.