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Savannah State failed to monitor its certification process

Download the June 2019 Savannah State University Public Infractions Decision

Savannah State did not monitor its certification process when it improperly certified 43 student-athletes in 10 sports, 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 and university must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing.

According to the decision, many of the certification issues stemmed from the university’s failure to certify amateurism and progress-toward-degree requirements. The university also violated rules when it allowed two student-athletes with expired eligibility and two nonqualifers to compete.

“As a fundamental obligation of NCAA membership, schools must ensure that all student-athletes are properly certified, both prior to participation in college athletics and on a continuing basis throughout their enrollment,” the committee said in its decision.

The committee and the university agreed that persistent turnover caused several breakdowns, such as not following written policies, inadequate communication and insufficient rules education.  In its decision, the committee noted “all of these weaknesses combined to create a lack of checks and balances needed to ensure academic certification was complete and accurate.”

Despite the failure to monitor the certification process, the committee said most student-athletes were properly certified.

The committee noted that this is the fifth infractions decision in the past year involving eligibility certification violations. In its decision, it instructed the membership that enough resources must be allocated to ensure the integrity of this process.

The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines for a Level II-standard case to prescribe the following penalties, most of which were self-imposed by the university:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.
  • Each staff member responsible for certifying student-athletes must attend a Regional Rules Seminar once during the probation period.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).

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 Bobby Cremins, former head men’s basketball coach at Appalachian State, Georgia Tech and the College of Charleston; Stephen A. Madva, attorney in private practice; Kay Norton, president emeritus of Northern Colorado; Roderick Perry, athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Dave Roberts, administrator at Southern California and vice chair of the Committee on Infractions; Greg Sankey, commissioner of the Southeastern Conference; and Sankar Suryanarayan, chief hearing officer for the panel and university counsel at Princeton.