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UC Santa Barbara track and men’s water polo programs commit violations

Download the Nov. 2019 UC Santa Barbara Public Infractions Decision

The UC Santa Barbara men’s and women’s cross country and track programs violated countable athletically related activity restrictions, and the men’s water polo program violated impermissible benefits rules, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

The committee also said both the head water polo coach and the former head track coach failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in their programs and violated head coach responsibility rules when they were directly involved in violations and did not consult compliance. The head water polo coach also involved an assistant coach in the violations.

“The violations in both programs were rooted in the failures of the two head coaches to maintain open lines of communication with UC Santa Barbara’s compliance staff,” the committee said in its decision. “Both coaches operated independently of the compliance staff, either assuming they knew the rules or acting with indifference towards applicable rules. Their conduct resulted in multiple Level II violations of well-known NCAA rules.”

In the track program, the committee said the former track coach expected the distance runners to log their training activity during the summer and on their in-season weekly day off, which are periods when countable athletically related activity is prohibited. The former coach reviewed the logs, provided feedback on their training, and punished or admonished student-athletes who did not meet his training or logging expectations. The committee noted in its report, although student-athletes may choose to train during times when countable athletically related activity is prohibited, there can be no suggestion by the coaching staff that they are expected to do so. The former coach’s monitoring meant that the training activities during those times were not truly voluntary and were impermissible.

In the men’s water polo program, the head water polo coach facilitated housing for a student-athlete before enrolling at the university, resulting in impermissible benefits. While the head water polo coach was not involved in the specifics of the housing arrangement, the committee determined a discussion the coach had with a club coach about the student-athlete's housing needs facilitated the impermissible arrangement.

In its decision, the committee noted that it has long warned of the heightened risk of violations when prospects move nearby a university before enrollment. It continued that when prospects do arrive early, it is incumbent upon schools and head coaches to know the details of the arrangements.

The head water polo coach and assistant water polo coach provided impermissible extra benefits for two student-athletes who worked for their water polo club. The two coaches compensated two student-athletes with a monthly stipend at well beyond the going rate for other student-athletes working at the water polo club. The stipend was tied directly to the amount of the student-athletes’ rent and was paid directly to their landlord. The coaches also paid the student-athletes for work at times when there was no documentation that they performed the work, including a time when one student-athlete was still in his home country.

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

  • Two years of probation.
  • A 2018 postseason ban for the men’s water polo team (self-imposed by the university).
  • A fine of $5,000 plus 1% of each of the budgets of the men’s water polo, men’s cross country and women’s cross country programs.
  • A reduction of men’s and women’s cross country and track and field scholarships by 5% during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed by the university) and 7.5% during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • A reduction of men’s water polo scholarships by 5% during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed by the university) and 7.5% during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • A reduction of men’s and women’s cross country and track and field official visits by 12.5% during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university) and 12.5% during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • A prohibition on unofficial visits in the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field programs for six weeks during the 2020-21 recruiting season.
  • A reduction of men’s water polo official paid visits by 12.5% during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university) and 12.5% during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • A prohibition of men’s water polo unofficial visits for a six-month period from April 2018 through September 2018 (self-imposed by the university) and a six-week period during the 2020-21 recruiting season.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the head track coach. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from all athletically related activity.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the assistant water polo coach. During that period, he must be suspended for 30% of the season’s contests.
  • A two-year show-cause order for the head water polo coach. During that period, he must be prohibited from participating in all off-campus recruiting, and he must be suspended from the first 30% of the season’s contests during the first year of the period.
  • A vacation of records in which the men’s water polo 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 14 days of the public decision release.
  • A prohibition on recruiting communication with international prospects for the men’s water polo coaching staff from April 1, 2018, through Dec. 31, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of countable athletically related activity by four hours per week for cross country student-athletes and track and field student-athletes who are also on the cross country squad list during the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • The university also required two days off from countable athletically related activity for cross country student-athletes and track and field student-athletes who are also on the cross country squad list (self-imposed by the university).

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Jody Conradt, retired head women’s basketball coach and special assistant to athletics at Texas; Thomas Hill, senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; Jason Leonard, executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma; Roderick Perry, athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; and Dave Roberts, chief hearing officer for the panel, interim athletics director at Southern California and vice chair of the Committee on Infractions.