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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: University of Pennsylvania

The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: University of Pennsylvania

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Pennsylvania (“Institution” or “Penn”) committed violations of NCAA legislation. The former head men's basketball coach violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation when he impermissibly accepted at least $250,000.00 in supplemental income in the form of cash, wire transfers and other benefits from the father of a then basketball prospective student-athlete to train, recruit and place the prospect on the recruited student-athlete list to increase his likelihood of admission to the university. The head coach did not disclose these payments as outside income to the Institution. Additionally, in carrying out the arrangement, the head coach committed numerous impermissible recruiting communications, contacts and tryout violations. Penn and the NCAA enforcement staff further agreed that the head coach is presumed responsible for the violations and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility, as he was personally involved in the violations. Finally, the head coach failed to cooperate with Penn and the NCAA enforcement staff when he refused to participate in an interview.


The head coach is a nonparticipating involved individual and did not respond to multiple requests to participate in an interview with the Institution and the NCAA enforcement staff when requested in October 2018 and April through June 2019. As a result, and pursuant to Bylaw 19.2.3.2.2, COI may view the refusal to interview as an admission by the head coach that the violations occurred. The NCAA enforcement staff notified the head coach through his agent and counsel on September 13, 2019, of the allegations involving him, including a post-separation notice of allegations for his noncooperation in the interview. The NCAA enforcement staff gave the head coach a September 20, 2019, deadline to respond and indicate whether he intended to participate in this infractions case. The head coach never responded. During his testimony in the federal criminal case, the head coach repeatedly indicated that he committed numerous NCAA violations and reported facts consistent with the allegations.


This case was resolved through a negotiated resolution.


The Committee concluded that Penn committed the following violations:


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 11.3.2.2, 13.1.1.1, 13.1.1.1.1, 13.11.1 and 13.14.1 (2012-13 through 2014-15); 13.1.3.1, 13.1.3.1.3 and 13.4.1 (2012-13); and 11.2.2 (2012-13 and 2013-14) (Level I)


Penn and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from April 2013 through March 2015, the head coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standards of honesty and sportsmanship normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics by knowingly accepting supplemental pay in the form of cash and other benefits from the prospect's father to train, recruit and increase the likelihood of admission to the university for the prospect as a recruited men's basketball player. Further, the head coach's actions resulted in multiple recruiting contact and tryout violations. Additionally, the head coach did not report any of these payments as athletically related income while employed at the Institution or deposit any funds with the Institution to cover these recruiting costs.


From April 29 through June 14, 2013, the head coach violated recruiting communication legislation by sending at least 24 impermissible text messages and placing at least one impermissible telephone call to the prospect's father or the prospect, who had not concluded his sophomore year of high school. NCAA Bylaws 13.1.3.1, 13.1.3.1.3 and 13.4.1 (2012-13).


From at least May 2013 through December 2014, the head coach conducted or watched at least 13 impermissible tryouts, and had impermissible recruiting contacts on at least 14 occasions with the prospect and his family. NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.1, 13.1.1.1.1 and 13.11.1 (2012-13 through 2014-15).


From May 2013 through March 2015, the head coach violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct when he accepted at least $258,792.00 in supplemental income from the prospect's father in the form of (1) payments totaling $248,000.00 in cash and wire transfers, (2) lodging and meal expenses totaling $10,792.00 to recruit and train the prospect, (3) commercial and charter airfare between Philadelphia and Miami on at least 11 occasions, (4) at least four shipments of shoes and (5) one set of concert tickets. Additionally, the head coach did not report any of these payments or benefits as athletically related income while employed at the institution or deposit the funds used to recruit the prospect with the institution. NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 11.3.2.2 and 13.14.1 (2012-13 through 2014-15) and 11.2.2 (2012-13 and 2013-14).


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 11.1.2.1 (2012-13) and 11.1.1.1 (2013-14 and 2014-15) (Level I)


Penn and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from at least April 2013 through March 2015, the head coach is presumed responsible for the violations outlined above and did not rebut that presumption. Specifically, the head coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance within the men's basketball program due to his personal involvement in the violations.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a) and 19.2.3 (2018-19 and 2019-20) (Level I)


It is uncontested that from October 2018, which was after his employment with Penn ceased, and continuing to the present, the head coach failed to cooperate with the Institution and the NCAA enforcement staff when he refused to participate in an interview and provide information relevant to an investigation of possible violations. Specifically, the Institution and the NCAA enforcement staff made several attempts to secure the head coach's participation in an NCAA interview through multiple phone calls, emails and letters to the head coach's representatives; yet, the head coach refused to participate.


Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.3 and 19.9.4


Aggravating Factors for the Institution


19.9.3-(a): Multiple Level I violations by the institution.


19.9.3-(h): Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct.


Mitigating Factors for the Institution


19.9.4-(b): Prompt acknowledgment of the violations, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties.


19.9.4-(c): Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter.


19.9.4-(d): An established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations.


19.9.4-(h): The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the institution.


Aggravating Factors for the Head Basketball Coach


19.9.3-(a): Multiple Level I violations by the involved individual.


19.9.3-(e): Unethical conduct and failing to cooperate during an investigation.


19.9.3-(h): Persons of authority (the head coach) condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct.


19.9.3-(j): Conduct or circumstances demonstrating an abuse of a position of trust.


19.9.3-(l): Conduct intended to generate pecuniary gain for the involved individual.


19.9.3-(m): Intentional, willful or blatant disregard for the NCAA constitution and bylaws.


Mitigating Factors for the Head Basketball Coach


19.9.4-(h): The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations.


As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized Penn as follows:


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Probation: Two years of probation from February 26, 2020, through February 25, 2022.


3. Financial penalty: The institution shall pay a fine of $5,000 to the NCAA.


4. Recruiting communication: The institution shall impose a three-week ban on all recruiting communications for men's basketball from May 10 through May 20, 2020, and May 31 through June 10, 2020.


5. Recruiting restrictions: The institution shall reduce its men's basketball program's recruiting- person days for the 2019-20 academic year by seven.


6. Show-cause order: The head coach engaged in unethical conduct when he knowingly accepted supplemental pay to train, recruit and increase the likelihood of admission to the university for the prospect and did not report that income to the institution. These actions also resulted in multiple recruiting contact and tryout violations. Additionally, he failed in his duty to promote an atmosphere of compliance based on his personal involvement in the violations. Based on the nature of the violations coupled with the post-separation failure to cooperate violation, the head coach shall be subject to a 15-year show-cause order pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.5.4. The show-cause period shall run from February 26, 2020, to February 25, 2035.10 Pursuant to COI IOP 5-15-3-1, if the head coach seeks employment or affiliation with any athletically related position at an NCAA member institution during the 15-year show-cause period, any employing institution shall be required to contact the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) to make arrangements to show cause why restrictions on all athletically related activity should not apply.


7. Head coach restriction: The head coach violated Bylaw 11 head coach responsibility legislation when he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program. Bylaw 19.9.5.5 and the Figure 19-1 penalty guidelines contemplate head coach suspensions to address head coach responsibility violations. Therefore, as a result of the head coach's Bylaw 11.1.1.1 violation, in the year following the expiration of the show-cause period, any member institution employing the head coach shall suspend him for the first 50 percent of the season's contests if he is employed as a coach. The provisions of the suspension require that the head coach not be present in the facility where the contests are played and have no contact or communications with members of the men's basketball coaching staff and student-athletes during the suspension dates. The prohibition includes all coaching activities for the period of time which begins at 12:01 a.m. the day of the contest and ends at 11:59 p.m. that day. During that period, the head coach may not participate in any coaching activities, including, but not limited to, team travel, practice, video study, recruiting and team meetings. The results of those contests from which the head coach is suspended shall not count in the head coach's career coaching record.


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