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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (“UAPB”) committed violations of NCAA legislation. After the investigation concluded the case was submitted to the Committee through the summary disposition process, which is an alternative to a formal hearing before the Committee that may be utilized when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution, and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute violations of NCAA legislation. UAPB contested two of the penalties proposed by the Committee, thus an expedited hearing was as it relates to the penalties.


This case centers on the UAPB's erroneous certification of student-athletes as eligible for competition. Specifically, over five academic years, UAPB erroneously certified 124 student-athletes for competition when it failed to apply NCAA Bylaw 14 progress-toward-degree, degree credit hours, nonqualifier status and two-year transfer requirements. As a result, UAPB permitted ineligible student-athletes to practice and compete. A majority of those student-athletes received impermissible travel expenses. In addition to failing to apply NCAA Bylaw 14 requirements, UAPB permitted nine student-athletes to practice, compete and receive travel expenses prior to the NCAA Eligibility Center certifying their amateur status. Further, during the 2007-08 through 2009-10 academic years, UAPB failed to maintain complete and accurate squad lists. This failure resulted in 19 student-athletes competing on teams despite their names not appearing on the squad lists. During the same time period, UAPB permitted 15 student-athletes, who did not receive a book scholarship, to receive books, an extra benefit. Finally and as result of the widespread, systematic violations, UAPB failed to exert control and monitoring in the conduct and administration of its athletics program because it failed to: (1) provide rules education and training to those responsible for certifying eligibility; (2) establish a proper system for ensuring compliance with eligibility requirements; (3) maintain complete and accurate squad lists; and (4) monitor and review the bookstore records and distributions.


The Committee determined that the case should move forward under a Level I standard and found that UAPB committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:


Violations of NCAA Bylaws 12.1.1.1.3, 14.3.2.1.1, 14.4.3.1-(a), 14.4.3.1-(b), 14.4.3.1-(c), 14.4.3.2, 14.5.4.2-(b), 14.5.4.1-(c), 14.10.1, 15.01.5, and 16.8.1.2 (Level I)


The NCAA enforcement staff and UAPB agreed that during the 2007-08 through 2011-12 academic years, 124 student-athletes were permitted to practice, compete or receive athletics aid while ineligible, and a majority of the student-athletes also received impermissible travel expenses. In addition, some of those student-athletes competed in subsequent years while academically eligible, but before UAPB became aware of and sought reinstatement of their eligibility from the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff for the previous year or years when they competed while ineligible.


Regarding fulfillment of percentage-of-degree requirements, UAPB erroneously used remedial courses; improperly rounded up the student-athletes' percentage-of-degree requirements completed; misapplied transfer hours; or failed to adequately verify available information to determine whether student-athletes entering his or her third, fourth or fifth year of collegiate enrollment had successfully completed 40, 60 or 80 percent, respectively, of the course requirements in the students' specific degree programs. As a result, 110 student-athletes competed while ineligible and a majority of those student-athletes also received impermissible travel expenses.


Regarding fulfillment of credit-hour requirements, UAPB failed to ensure that student-athletes satisfactorily completed (a) 24-semester hours of academic credit prior to the start of the student-athlete's second year of enrollment, (b) 18-semester hours of academic credit since the beginning of the previous fall term or preceding two semesters and/or (c) six-semester hours of academic credit during the preceding academic term. As a result, seven student-athletes competed while ineligible and received impermissible travel expenses.


Regarding nonqualifier status, during the 2008-09 academic year, UAPB permitted two student-athletes who were incoming nonqualifiers to practice, compete and/or receive impermissible travel expenses and athletically related financial aid during their initial year of residency at the institution.


Regarding two-year college transfer requirements, during the 2008-09 through 2009-10 academic years, UAPB permitted four student-athletes to practice, compete, receive impermissible travel expenses and/or receive athletically related financial [aid] even though the student-athletes did not meet transfer requirements and had not completed an academic year of residence.


Regarding amateur status, during the 2007-08 through 2009-10 academic years, UAPB permitted nine student-athletes to practice, compete and receive travel expenses prior to UAPB certifying their amateurism status with the NCAA Eligibility Center.


Violations of NCAA Bylaws 15.5.1.1, 14.10.2, and 15.5.11.1 (Level II)


The NCAA enforcement staff and UAPB agreed that during the 2007-08 through 2009-10 academic years, UAPB failed to maintain complete and accurate squad lists for the sports of baseball, football, men's and women's track and field, women's basketball, women's tennis, women's volleyball and softball, which resulted in 19 student-athletes competing, even though they were not on their team's squad list.


Violations of NCAA Bylaws 15.2.3 and 16.11.2.1 (Level II)


The NCAA enforcement staff and UAPB agreed that during the 2007-08 and 2009-10 academic years, 15 student-athletes, whose athletics financial aid award did not include books, received impermissible extra benefits when either the athletics department book inventory room or campus bookstore staff provided them books ranging in value from $56.15 to $700.


Violations of NCAA Constitution 2.1.1, 2.8.1, and 6.01.1 (Level I)


The NCAA enforcement staff and UAPB agreed that from 2007-08 through 2011-12 academic years, the scope and nature of the violations demonstrate UAPB failed to exert appropriate institutional control and monitoring in the conduct and administration of its athletics program in that it failed to (a) provide adequate NCAA rules education and training to individuals responsible for certifying student-athletes' eligibility, (b) establish a proper system for ensuring compliance with NCAA eligibility requirements, (c) maintain complete and accurate squad lists for eight sports programs and (d) adequately monitor and review the bookstore records or distribution of books to student-athletes.


During the 2007-08 through 2011-12 academic years, UAPB failed to provide adequate NCAA rules education and training to many of the individuals responsible for certifying the eligibility of student-athletes, including chairpersons and faculty academic advisors.


During the 2007-08 through 2011-12 academic years, UAPB failed to establish a proper system to ensure compliance with NCAA eligibility requirements. Partly as a result, 124 student-athletes were permitted to participate in practice and/or competition while ineligible, some received impermissible travel expenses and some received impermissible athletically related financial aid.


During the 2007-08 through 2009-10 academic years, UAPB failed to maintain and monitor the squad lists of eight sports programs, which resulted in 19 student-athletes participating in competition, even though they were not included on the institution's squad lists.


During the 2007-08 and 2009-10 academic years, UAPB failed to monitor and review the campus bookstore records pertaining to the distribution of books to student-athletes. Partly as a result, 15 student-athletes, whose athletics financial aid award did not include books, received an impermissible extra benefit when either the athletics department book inventory room or the campus bookstore staff provided them books.


Violations of NCAA Bylaws 14.4.3.1.5 15.5.5.2, and 16.11.1.13 (Level III)


The NCAA enforcement staff and UAPB agreed that during the 2007-08 and 2009-10 academic years, UAPB committed several breaches of conduct (Level III violations) of NCAA legislation.


During the 2007-08 academic year, a men's basketball student-athlete received $2,090.25 from the Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund (SAOF) even though the funds were intended to finance his grant-in-aid, while he still had eligibility remaining.


During the 2007-08 academic year, two football student-athletes failed to designate a program of studies leading toward a specific baccalaureate degree prior to participating in competition that occurs during or before the third year (fifth semester) of enrollment.


During the 2009-10 academic year, the women's basketball program exceeded its annual limit of 15 in total number of counters by one. Specifically, a women's basketball student-athlete, who was not awarded athletically related aid, received one book from the athletics department book inventory room, resulting in an athletics award being provided to 16 student-athletes.

Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.2 and 19.9.4


Aggravating factors were as follows: 1) lack of institutional control (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(c)); and 2) multiple Level I and II violations (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g)).


Mitigating factors were as follows: 1) prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties (NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b)).


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


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Five years of probation from November 5, 2014 through November 4, 2019.


3. Within six months, UAPB shall undergo a comprehensive compliance review conducted by an outside agency.


4. UAPB’s football, men's basketball, women's basketball and baseball programs shall end their 2014-15 academic year seasons with the playing of their last regularly scheduled in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including any foreign tours and conference and/or NCAA tournaments or championships.


5. UAPB shall vacate all wins from the academic years 2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 in which ineligible student-athletes competed.


6. UAPB reported that it will cut the number of athletically related aid awarded by the institution in the affected sports for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years as follows:


Equivalency: baseball – 6.35, men’s track and field – 3.57, softball – 5.64, women’s soccer – 7.79, women’s track and field – 5.91, and men’s golf – 3.12.


Head Count: women’s volleyball – reduction of 1, women’s basketball – reduction of 2, men’s basketball – reduction of 2, and women’s tennis – reduction of 1.


Football: reduced the number of student-athletes receiving athletics aid from 59 to 53 and limit of 33.2 equivalencies.

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