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Saint Francis football program provides extra benefits, commits recruiting violations

Download: Saint Francis University Public Infractions Decision

Saint Francis University’s head football coach and a part-time assistant football coach violated the NCAA ethical conduct rules when they provided extra benefits to student-athletes, according to a decision issued by a NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel. From the summer of 2011 through the spring of 2013, the head coach, part-time assistant coach, two additional assistant football coaches and a booster arranged for or provided approximately $1,450 in lodging, transportation and meals to student-athletes and a student-athlete’s mother. Additionally, the head coach and an assistant coach participated in impermissible recruiting activities.

Penalties in this case include two years of probation, a limit of 11 games for the 2014 football team and show-cause orders for the head coach and part-time assistant coach. During that time, both coaches must complete conference game suspensions.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and involved individuals must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having an in-person hearing.

Prior to preseason football practice during the summer of 2011, the head coach arranged for a student-athlete and his mother to stay at a booster’s home. The stay included impermissible lodging, meals and transportation. Later in 2011, the part-time assistant coach purchased a roundtrip plane ticket for the same student-athlete to fly home. Additionally, two other assistant coaches provided impermissible transportation to three student athletes in 2013. Over the period when the violations occurred, the coaches often chose not to attend departmental rules education sessions. The panel notes the coaches claimed a lack of awareness of the rules; however, they should have known they could not provide the benefits to the student-athletes.

From June 2012 through May 2013, the head coach also impermissibly contacted prospects through text messages and excessive telephone calls. Additionally, an assistant coach publicly tweeted with a prospect for recruiting purposes, contrary to NCAA rules.

The head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly arranged for a student-athlete and his mother to stay with a booster. He failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance when he did not require his entire coaching staff to participate in NCAA compliance education meetings on a monthly basis. He also did not monitor the activities of the three assistant coaches who provided impermissible transportation and lodging to student-athletes. Additionally, the part-time coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules by providing the plane ticket to the student-athlete.

Penalties and measures are below:

  • Two years of probation from August 28, 2014 through August 27, 2016.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the conduct of the part-time coach from August 28, 2014 through August 27, 2015, and a two-year show-order for the conduct of the head coach from August 28, 2014 through August 27, 2015. The orders include a two-game conference game suspension for the head coach and a one-game conference game suspension for the part-time coach. The public report contains further details on the suspensions and the show-cause orders.
  • A reduction of one football game during the 2014 football season (self-imposed by the university).
  • A ban on part-time coach off-campus recruiting without the approval of the assistant athletics director for compliance, senior associate athletics director/senior woman administrator and the athletics director (self-imposed by the university).
  • A $5,000 fine

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Greg Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Chris Griffin, attorney; Thomas Hill, senior vice president for student affairs at Iowa State University; Roscoe Howard, attorney; and Jim O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon.