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Appeals committee upholds Florida A&M financial penalty

Download the Mar. 2020 Florida A&M Final Public Appeals Decision

Florida A&M must pay the financial penalty prescribed by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, according to a decision from the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee. 

In the Committee on Infractions’ decision regarding Florida A&M, the panel found the university lacked institutional control and did not monitor its athletics program resulting in systemic underlying certification violations. In addition to other penalties, the panel prescribed a financial penalty of $5,000 plus 3% of the total athletics budget.

In its appeal, the university argued there were new facts addressed at the expedited penalty hearing that the Committee on Infractions could have considered when determining mitigating factors. The university said the first new fact was the case was classified as Level I-Aggravated. It argued that had it known the panel considered it a Level I-Aggravated, it would have argued different mitigating factors so the Committee on Infractions could reconsider the case as a Level I-Standard. The second new fact was a new requirement from the university’s system that the fine would have to be paid from the athletics department’s budget. The last new fact the university presented was that the financial penalty would have a detrimental effect on the progress in student-athlete academic success since its receipt of an NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program grant.

The university also argued the Committee on Infractions did not consider case precedent when prescribing the penalty.

In its decision, the Infractions Appeals Committee said NCAA rules do not require the Committee on Infractions to reassess the application of mitigating and/or aggravating factors after penalties are prescribed. The committee noted the penalty guidelines were designed by the membership to increase the predictability and transparency of the penalties that could be prescribed given the type of violations in an infractions case. It continued that it believes the university knew or should have known the possible penalties associated with the classification of the case.

The committee also considered the university’s case precedent argument. While the university’s case may have some similar characteristics to the cases mentioned in its appeal, the committee said there are distinct and significant differences. The committee said the university’s case differed from the cases mentioned in its appeal because the university’s case had a different level classification than the others, a history of previous infractions cases by the university and the absence of mitigating factors.

Ultimately, the Infractions Appeals Committee determined that the panel did not abuse its discretion by prescribing the financial penalty and upheld that penalty in this case.

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.