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Major Recruiting Infractions by Institutions' Athletic Representatives

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A general regulation of the NCAA organization states, "An institution's staff member or any representative of its athletics interests shall not be involved, directly, or indirectly, in making arrangements for or giving or offering to give any financial aid or other benefits to the prospect or the prospect's relatives or friends other than expressly permitted by NCAA regulation." However, this rule has commonly been officially violated hundreds of times by hundreds of athletic institutions. This report will identify institutions currently on probation for such infractions by athletics representatives. Also, in-depth research will be presented detailing the different types of infractions and penalties associated with a specific university. Finally, the implications this issue has on sports management will be reviewed.

The NCAA Division I Manual refers to a "representative of the institution's athletics interests" as an individual, independent agency, corporate entity, or other organization who is known by a member of the institution's executive or athletics administration. This person or entity could be a financial contributor to the athletics department or booster organization or a member of an agency promoting the institution's athletics program. This athletics representative cannot provide any assistance to a recruit or an enrolled student-athlete. Only coaches and athletics department staff are allowed to be involved in the recruitment process. It is important for athletics administration to communicate this rule to supporters because an athletics representative can ultimately be responsible for an institution's probation if that NCAA regulation is violated.

Currently institutions such as Arizona State University, Baylor University, Mississippi State University, University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa, University of Michigan and Villanova University are on probation for athletics representatives actively engaged in violations of recruiting and extra-benefit involvement. The University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa was placed on probation in February 2002 and it will not be lifted until January 2007. The violations through the football program included recruiting inducements; recruiting inducements through high-school coaches; violation of honesty standards; impermissible extra-benefits and excessive entertainment during recruiting visit by athletics representatives.

While several serious allegations in this case involved the use of extra-benefits to enrolled football student-athletes, at the heart of the case were football recruiting violations involving some of the largest money amounts alleged in any infractions case in the NCAA's history. Among the most troubling aspects of the case were that these were many and very serious violations involving large amounts of money and which involved a university with a recent past infractions history and a culture of non-compliance within a small but prominent part of the university's booster organization.

Of central prominence in the case were three representatives of the university's athletics interests who acted both alone and together to commit the NCAA recruiting violations. Two of the three were well known to university coaches and staff as well as fans and other athletics representatives, and were commonly observed at team hotels at road games. One athletics representative was a wealthy resident of Memphis who was especially well known by university and athletics department staff and known as a supporter of the university's football program among college football coaches who recruited the Memphis area. Among other things, this violator was a self-proclaimed recruiting junkie who had been the friend of the current Athletics Director and was a frequent financial contributor to the university's athletics program; over the past 35 years had attended the annual National Football Foundation Hall of Fame banquet and sat with university officials and trustees; periodically attended non-public football practice sessions; and visited summer football camps at the university.

One example of the numerous violations occurred during a home high-school football game in which a prospect was competing. The athletics representative told the father of the prospect that he could "help" his son. Approximately one week later the athletics representative visited the prospect at his home and asked the prospect if there was anything he wanted, and the prospect answered by saying that he wanted a truck. The athletics representative told the prospect he would provide the cash for it but not a truck to avoid having a paper trail.

In determining the appropriate penalties to impose on the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, the NCAA committee considered the institution's self-imposed corrective actions and penalties. Among several penalties, the university was required to disassociate from the mentioned athletics representative for ten years, reduce the number of football scholarships from 25 to 17, reduce the number of official paid visits, decline from eligibility to participate in any bowl game and send an updated "Guide to NCAA Rules for Alumni, Faculty and Friends" brochure to all season ticket holders in every sport. Since the university was a repeat violator with previous infractions cases in 1995 and 1999, the committee considered imposing repeat-violator penalties by prohibiting outside competition (the so called death penalty) in the sport of football. However, the committee declined to impose that prohibition because university officials cooperated fully with the committee to develop complete information



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