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Ohio women’s volleyball program provided impermissible recruiting benefits

Download the June 2020 Ohio University Negotiated Resolution Agreement

The Ohio University women’s volleyball coaching staff violated NCAA recruiting rules when it impermissibly purchased airfare for the parents of prospects, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. 

The agreement noted the violations were inadvertent and resulted from the head women’s volleyball coach’s misunderstanding of NCAA rules and the university’s failure to adequately educate the coaching staff. 

The coaching staff provided a total of $4,408 in airfare for one or both parents of eight prospects to travel with the prospect on an official visit. NCAA rules allow athletics departments to pay for transportation costs for a prospect’s official visit, but do not allow athletics departments to pay for travel expenses incurred by family members or friends of a prospect. Four of the eight prospects enrolled at Ohio, resulting in the enrolled student-athletes competing while ineligible. 

The university and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the university failed to monitor and ensure compliance with NCAA official paid visit rules. According to the agreement, the university did not provide adequate rules education and training to staff members who were responsible for ensuring official visit transportation rules were followed. The university also did not establish an adequate system for making sure the women’s volleyball program followed NCAA rules on official visit transportation.

This case was processed through the negotiated resolution process. It was used because the university and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the Association and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases.

The university and the enforcement staff used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions guidelines to agree upon Level II-mitigated penalties for the university. Those and other penalties, approved by the Committee on Infractions, are detailed below: 

  • One year of probation.
  • A fine of $5,000.
  • A 37.5% reduction of women’s volleyball official paid visits to a maximum of five official paid visits from Aug. 1, 2019, through Aug. 31, 2020.
  • A four-week ban on women’s volleyball official and unofficial visits, served May 1-28, 2019. A reduction of 25 women’s volleyball off-campus recruiting days from the available number of off-campus recruiting days during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • 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.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case were Thomas Hill, senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; Larry Parkinson, director of enforcement for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; and E. Thomas Sullivan, chief hearing officer for the panel and president emeritus of Vermont.