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ACC v. Maryland: North Carolina Court of Appeals Upholds Denial of Motion to Dismiss

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that Chadron State College (“CSC”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. At issue were allegations of lack of institutional control due to athletics funds being held in outside bank accounts and the institution failing to have in place a rules education program, a system of monitoring student-athlete eligibility and methods for ensuring compliance with countable athletically related activity and squad list legislation. The case also involved allegations of rules violations against the former head football coach, including the provision of extra benefits to student-athletes, maintenance of outside bank accounts and unethical conduct by providing false or misleading information during interviews. The Committee ultimately concluded that CSC lacked control over the department of athletics and that the institution and director of athletics failed to monitor the department. The Committee further concluded that the head coach engaged in unethical conduct by knowingly providing impermissible benefits to student-athletes and providing false or misleading information to CSC.


The Committee found that CSC committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:


1. CSC lacked control over the department of athletics and CSC and director of athletics failed to monitor the athletics program in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.8.1, 6.01.1 and 6.2.1 and NCAA Bylaws 13.14.1, 14.01.1, 14.01.2, 14.4.3.1-(b), 14.10.2, 14.11.1, 15.5.5.2.1-(e), 16.8.1.2, and 17.1.6.3.4.


CSC lacked institutional control over the department of athletics, the institution and director of athletics failed to monitor the athletics program. The institution did not control the three outside bank accounts maintained by the director of athletics and head coach, and the institution and director of athletics failed to establish a rules education program. Further, the institution and director of athletics failed to sufficiently track the football program’s expenditures, monitor the Last Chance For Glory golf tournaments, have in place a viable eligibility certification system and ensure compliance with legislation regarding countable athletically related activities and squad lists.


Outside Bank Accounts. The director of athletics and head coach maintained three bank accounts outside the control of the institution. They used the accounts for athletics purposes. The C-Club account was open for over 30 years and was not closed by the director of athletics despite recommendations that he do so by two institutional presidents. By 2010 the head coach had opened two outside accounts of his own without informing anyone in the athletics administration. When the institution allowed the C-Club Account to remain open and used for athletics purposes, it failed to control the athletics budget. Further, in part because the institution and director of athletics did not sufficiently monitor all football expenditures, the head coach’s two outside accounts remained undetected.


Last Chance for Glory Funds. The purpose of the Last Chance For Glory golf tournaments was to raise funds to assist the football program. The institution was aware of the events and actively involved in their planning. The director of athletics attended the events and was aware that proceeds were not being deposited into an institutional foundation account, but he took no action to determine where the funds were kept and how they were used. The head coach used the funds to supplement his annual football budget. Because the institution failed to account for the Last Change For Glory funds, it violated the institutional control provisions of the NCAA Constitution. Further, when the director of athletics did not take any action to determine where the funds were deposited and how they were used, he and the institution failed to monitor the tournaments and their proceeds.


Rules Education. CSC did not have a rules education program. Rules education is a cornerstone of a viable compliance program. Had a comprehensive program been in place, the director of athletics and head coach likely would have become aware of the impermissibility of using bank accounts outside the control of the institution for athletics purposes. Further, the head coach would have known that he could not have athletics bank accounts outside the control of the institution. The failure of the institution to have an education program in place was another aspect of the lack of control of the athletics program.


Tracking Football Funds. CSC and the director of athletics did not adequately track the funds expended by the football program, specifically, by the head coach. The head coach used the three outside bank accounts to supplement the football program’s budget. Every time he spent funds from those accounts, he operated outside the department of athletics or foundation approval process. Had the institution and director of athletics thoroughly tracked his expenditures, questions would necessarily have been raised regarding the source of at least some of the funds he was spending for recruiting or other football related activities. When the head coach used funds from the outside accounts for recruiting purposes, he was using funds outside of the control of the institution. The failure of the institution and director of athletics to track the use of the funds allowed the use of outside funds to go undetected and contributed to the lack of control and failure to monitor of the department of athletics.


Eligibility Certification. CSC’s system for certifying student-athlete eligibility was deficient, with the most glaring weakness being that it did not involve the registrar, admissions, or any other department outside of athletics. The compliance coordinator performed certification duties, but at times the coaches did their own records reviews. Further, a deficient communication system between coaches and administrators permitted an ineligible student-athlete to compete before his eligibility was confirmed. A viable system of eligibility certification is crucial to institutional control. Because the institution did not have such a system, it lacked control over the department of athletics.


Because of the deficient certification system at the institution, student-athlete 1 was allowed to compete in the 2011 season while academically ineligible. He only completed 21 credit hours in 2010-11, yet the institution allowed him to practice, compete, travel, and receive travel expenses throughout the 2011 season. The failure of the institution and director of athletics to establish a viable eligibility certification system contributed to the institution’s lack of control of the department of athletics and the institution’s and director of athletics’ failure to monitor the athletics program.


Recording Countable Athletically Related Activities and Signing Squad Lists. The institution’s head coaches and the director of athletics did not sign squad lists prior to the first date of competition for each team. The failure of the institution and director of athletics to ensure that the institution and the institution’s coaches adhered to all countable athletically related activity and squad list legislation contributed to the lack of institutional control by the institution and failure to monitor by the institution and the director of athletics.


2. The head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he provided false or misleading information and impermissible benefits in violation of NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1-(c), and 16.11.2.1.


On September 19, 22 and 23, 2011, the head coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when he provided false or misleading information to CSC. Further, he violated the principles of unethical conduct on December 13, 2010 and June 10, 2011, when he knowingly provided impermissible extra benefits to two student-athletes.


The head coach provided false or misleading information to CSC on three occasions. On September 19, the president asked him about the existence of outside bank accounts and the whereabouts of money raised through the golf tournaments. He denied that that there were outside accounts and stated that he did not know where the money from the tournaments was located. The head coach did not agree that he was asked about any outside accounts. He claimed that on September 19, the president only asked him if he was keeping proceeds from the golf tournament specifically in a “turf account.” He accurately stated “no” but failed to inform her that he knew where the funds were located. He should have made full disclosure of the existence of his outside accounts when questioned on September 19.


On September 22, the head coach signed a document affirming that the Special Account was the only outside account he maintained. On September 23, when the president asked him if the Special Account was the only outside account he maintained, he answered in the affirmative. On both occasions he failed to disclose the existence of the Concession Account, which he closed on September 23 before he met with the president. Because he affirmed on September 22 that he only had one account when in fact there were two, and because he failed on September 23 to disclose the existence of his second account, he violated NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1 and 10.1-(d).


The head coach also provided extra benefits to student-athletes. The director of athletics and trainer both told the head coach that he could not pay for student-athlete 3’s health insurance, with the trainer telling him specifically that paying for the insurance would be a violation of NCAA rules. The head coach knew it was impermissible to provide money to student-athlete 2. Because the head coach provided money to two enrolled student-athletes and knew he was precluded from doing so, he violated the principles of ethical conduct and NCAA extra benefits legislation.


As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized CSC as follows:


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Three years of probation from November 6, 2013 through November 5, 2016.


3. CSC shall pay a fine in the amount of $5,000.00.


Football

4. The football program will withhold one full-time coach from recruiting off-campus for the spring and fall 2013 recruiting periods. This is a reduction of 25% in the number of coaches who are normally allowed to recruit off-campus.


5. Official paid visits will be reduced from the historical four-year average of 75 to 60 for the 2013-14 academic year.


6. CSC shall vacate all wins in which student-athlete 1 competed while ineligible.


Head Football Coach

From November 6, 2013 through November 5, 2015 the head coach shall have the following restrictions:


7. No control over or access to any funds for football camps.


8. No control over or access to any funds related to fundraising for the football program. Any request for him to use foundation funds must be made by the head coach and approved by the CFO for athletics and the director of athletics.


9. No involvement, directly or indirectly, with football camp registrations.


10. Must attend an orientation regarding the NCAA rules program at the institution.


11. Met with the institution’s enforcement staff on April 10, 2013. The allegations against him were reviewed, with an emphasis on inducements and extra benefits.


12. Attend the 2014 NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at his own expense.


13. Attend one-on-one monthly meetings with the assistant athletics director for compliance to discuss any questions he has regarding rules and topics that were covered in the monthly coaches’ compliance meeting.


Tournament Organizer

14. CSC has disassociated with the tournament organizer and shall not accept any assistance, financial contributions, benefits or privileges from the tournament organizer during the period of probation.


Director of Athletics

15. The director of athletics received a 2 year show cause penalty.

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