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Decision of the Division I Independent Resolution Panel: North Carolina State

The Independent Resolution Panel (“hearing panel”) recently issued its findings and found that NC State University (“NC State” or “NCSU” or “institution”) committed violations of NCAA legislation. This case primarily arose out of NCAA recruiting violations committed by the former assistant men’s basketball coach (hereinafter, the “former assistant coach”), the failure of the former head men’s basketball coach (hereinafter, the “former head coach”) to monitor him, and NC State’s failure to monitor the provision of complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list.


The information that led to this infractions case came principally from the 2018 criminal indictment, trial and subsequent convictions of three apparel company-related individuals (apparel company employee No. 1, apparel company employee No. 2 and the business manager) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. A jury found that the three apparel company-related individuals made payments to the families of promising prospective student-athletes in the sport of men’s basketball to ensure that they attended apparel company-sponsored universities, in anticipation that these prospective student-athletes would sign with the apparel company when they became professional men’s basketball players. The apparel company outside consultant pled guilty and entered into a cooperation agreement with the U.S. government. Pursuant to that agreement, the apparel company outside consultant admitted that he took part in this scheme.


The apparel company, an apparel and equipment manufacturer, was a significant sponsor of NC State’s athletics programs. Based on its endorsement/sponsorship agreement with NC State, the apparel company had the exclusive right to publicly represent, market and otherwise promote the fact that it was the exclusive supplier to NC State of designated products.


The hearing panel found NC State committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:


Level I Violations


Allegation No. 1-(c). Unethical Conduct; Impermissible Offers and Inducements; Honesty and Sportsmanship [Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(c) and 13.2.1 (2015-16 NCAA Division I Manual)].


In November 2015, the former assistant coach was involved, directly or indirectly, in making arrangements to provide a prospective student-athlete with a recruiting inducement of $40,000. Pursuant to Bylaws 19.1.1-(d), -(g), and -(h), this violation is Level I. The former assistant coach acted unethically and with dishonesty. He was involved in a cash payment from the apparel company outside consultant intended to secure the enrollment of a prospective student-athlete. He knew of third-party involvement in a recruiting violation. This was an intentional violation that demonstrated a reckless indifference to NCAA bylaws.


Allegation No. 1-(d). Unethical Conduct: Honesty and Sportsmanship [Bylaw 10.1-(c) (2015-16 NCAA Division I Manual); Bylaws 10.01.1 and 10.1 (2015-16 through 2016-17 NCAA Division I Manuals), and Bylaw 10.1-(b) (2016-17 NCAA Division I Manual)].


During the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, the former assistant coach violated the principle of ethical conduct when he falsified the designation of the former trainer so that he would appear eligible for complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list, thus knowingly providing recruiting inducements related to prospective student-athlete No. 1. The former assistant coach acted intentionally, unethically and with dishonesty. He demonstrated a reckless indifference to the NCAA constitution and bylaws. Pursuant to Bylaws 19.1.1-(d) and -(h), the hearing panel finds that the unethical conduct violations related to Bylaws 10.1-(b) and 10.1-(c) of this allegation are Level I for both NC State and the former assistant coach. Further, the hearing panel finds that the unethical conduct violations related to Bylaws 10.01.1 and 10.1 of this allegation, for which only the former assistant coach is accountable, are Level I.


Allegation No. 1-(e). Unethical Conduct: Honesty and Sportsmanship [Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1 and 10.1-(b) (2016-17 NCAA Division I Manual)].


During the 2016-17 academic year, the former assistant coach violated the principle of ethical conduct when he falsified the designation of prospective student-athlete No. 1’s friends and family so that they would appear eligible for complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list, thus knowingly providing an extra benefit to prospective student-athlete No. 1 after he enrolled in NC State. The former coach acted intentionally, unethically and with dishonesty. He demonstrated a reckless indifference to the NCAA constitution and its bylaws. Pursuant to Bylaws 19.1.1-(d) and -(h), the hearing panel finds that the unethical conduct violations related to Bylaw 10.1-(b) of this allegation are Level I for both NC State and the former assistant coach. Further, the hearing panel finds that the aspects of the allegation concerning the former assistant coach’s false designation of prospective student-athlete No. 1’s family and friends (Bylaws 10.01.1 and 10.1) are Level I violations, for which only the former assistant coach is accountable.


Allegation No. 3. Head Coach Responsibilities [Bylaw 11.1.1.1 (2015-16 NCAA Division I Manual)].


During the 2015-16 academic year, the former head coach failed to demonstrate that he monitored his direct report, the former assistant coach. At the hearing, the former head coach failed to rebut the presumption of head coach responsibility. Specifically, the former head coach did not demonstrate that he monitored the former assistant coach with respect to his dealings with the apparel company outside consultant, which led to a direct or indirect arrangement for financial benefits to a prospective student-athlete. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.1-(e), this violation is Level I because it resulted from an underlying Level I violation by an individual within the men’s basketball program.


Post-Separation Allegation No. 1. Unethical Conduct, Failure to Cooperate [Bylaws 10.1, 10.1-(a) and 19.2.3 (2019-20 and 2020-21 NCAA Division I Manuals)].


From January 2019 through 2021, the former assistant coach violated the principle of ethical conduct when he failed to cooperate with the enforcement staff and the Complex Case Unit by refusing to participate in interviews; failing to respond to records requests that were issued by the Complex Case Unit; and failing to provide information relevant to the investigation. The enforcement staff, and subsequently, the Complex Case Unit, made multiple attempts to contact the former assistant coach through emails, phone calls and letters. Despite receiving adequate notice, the former assistant coach did not appear at the hearing nor at any of the procedural conferences that preceded the hearing. He failed to respond to the amended notice of allegations. The NCAA bylaws require all current and former institutional staff members to cooperate fully with the enforcement staff, the Complex Case Unit, and the Independent Resolution Panel. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.1-(c), this violation is Level I.


Level II Violations


Allegation No. 1-(d). Impermissible Provision of Benefits; Violation of Entertainment Restrictions [Bylaw 13.8.1 (2015-16 through 2016-17 NCAA Division I Manuals)].


On 26 occasions between January 2016 and March 2017, the former assistant coach violated restrictions on entertainment benefits when he provided to the former trainer approximately $2,119 in entertainment benefits in the form of 44 impermissible complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list. The former assistant coach did not appear at the hearing to respond to these allegations. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.2-(a), this violation is Level II. This is a violation that does not rise to the level of a Level I violation, but is more serious than Level III, primarily because of the number and value of impermissible admissions. NC State also is accountable for this violation.


Allegation No. 1-(e). Impermissible Provision of Benefits; Violation of Entertainment Restrictions [Bylaws 16.2.1.1 and 16.11.2.1 (2016-17 NCAA Division I Manual)].


On 13 occasions between November 2016 and February 2017, the former assistant coach violated restrictions on entertainment benefits when he provided approximately $4,562 in benefits in the form of 106 impermissible complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list to prospective student-athlete No. 1’s family and friends. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.2-(a), this violation is Level II. This is a violation that does not rise to the level of a Level I violation, but is more serious than Level III, primarily because of the number and value of impermissible admissions. NC State also is accountable for this violation.


Allegation No. 2. Violation of Entertainment Restrictions [Bylaw 13.8.1 (2015-16 NCAA Division Manual)].


On seven occasions during January and February 2016, men’s basketball staff members violated restrictions on entertainment benefits when they provided approximately $436 in benefits in the form of eight impermissible complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list to individual No. 1, who was responsible for directing an activity of a prospective student-athlete.

On March 8 and 9, 2016, the men’s basketball staff violated restrictions on entertainment benefits when they provided approximately $426 in benefits in the form of six impermissible complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list to individual No. 2, who was responsible for directing an activity of a prospective student-athlete.


Pursuant to Bylaws 19.1.2-(a) and -(d), these violations are Level II. These violations do not rise to the level of Level I violations but are more serious than Level III violations. They constitute multiple entertainment benefits violations but do not amount to a lack of institutional control. NC State is accountable for this violation.


Allegation No. 4. Failure to Monitor the Provision of Complimentary Admissions on the Men’s Basketball Office’s Pass List [Constitution 2.8.1 (2015-16 and 2016-17 NCAA Division I Manuals)].


During the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years, NC State violated the NCAA principle of rules compliance when it failed to adequately monitor the provision of complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list. NC State failed to establish an adequate system for ensuring compliance with NCAA legislation. NC State agreed that despite its strong culture of compliance, it failed to establish an adequate system to monitor the provision of complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list. It also agreed that this constitutes a Level II violation. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.2-(b), this violation is Level II. This violation arose from a failure to monitor but does not represent a substantial or egregious failure. NC State is accountable for this violation.


Level III Violations

Allegation No. 1-(a). Impermissible Inducements and Impermissible Parking [Bylaws 13.2.1 and 13.7.2.1.6 (2014-15 NCAA Division I Manual)].

The then-director of basketball operations arranged for approximately $80 in impermissible recruiting inducements in the form of special parking in the loading dock of PNC Arena for prospective student-athlete No. 1 and three other prospective student-athletes to use during their unofficial visit to the campus when they attended NC State’s September 27, 2014, football contest. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.3-(b), this violation is Level III. It was a recruiting violation that created no more than a minimal recruiting advantage. NC State is accountable for this violation.


Allegation No. 1-(b). Violation of Other Restrictions by Athletics Representatives and Exceeding the Countable Coach Limitation [Bylaws 13.2.1.4-(b) and 11.7.6 (2014-15 NCAA Division I Manual)].


On September 29, 2014, the former head coach invited his former colleague, who had triggered being a countable coach and an athletics representative, to view prospective student-athlete No. 1 at a recruiting event. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1.3-(b), these violations are Level III. They were recruiting violations that created no more than a minimal recruiting advantage. NC State is accountable for this violation.


Violations Not Demonstrated


As part of allegation No. 3, the Complex Case Unit alleged that the former head coach violated Bylaw 11.1.1.1 (2015-16 through 2016-17 NCAA Division I Manuals), head coach responsibility, by failing to monitor his staff’s provision of complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list. The compliance staff acknowledged that it had communicated to the former head coach that it was spot-checking the list. The hearing panel concludes, on this basis, that the former head coach reasonably relied on NC State’s compliance staff to monitor his staff’s provision of complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list. Accordingly, the hearing panel concludes that the former head coach has rebutted the presumption of responsibility for the actions of the institutional staff members who reported to him with respect to complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list.


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 or involved individual.

19.9.3-(g). Multiple Level II violations by the institution or involved individual.


Mitigating Factors for the Institution

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.


Aggravating Factors for the Head Coach

19.9.3-(e). Unethical conduct, compromising the integrity of an investigation, failing to cooperate during an investigation or refusing to provide all relevant or requested information.

19.9.3-(k). A pattern of noncompliance within the sport program(s) involved.


Mitigating Factors for the Head Coach

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


Aggravating Factors for the Former Assistant Coach

19.9.3-(e). Unethical conduct, compromising the integrity of an investigation, failing to cooperate during an investigation or refusing to provide all relevant or requested information.

19.9.3-(f). Violations were premeditated, deliberate, or committed after substantial planning.

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


Mitigating Factors for the Former Assistant 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 hearing panel penalized NC State as follows:


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Probation: One-year probation (December 20, 2021 to December 19, 2022).


3. Financial penalty: A financial penalty fine in the amount of $5,000 plus 0.5% of its 2021-22 men’s basketball budget.


4. Scholarship Reduction: (a) Reduce the total number of athletics awards in the sport of men’s basketball for the incoming class of the 2021-22 academic year by one (the first available opportunity) from the permissible total of 13, or if a scholarship becomes available, at the time of such availability, if prior to the 2021-22 academic year; and (b) For the 2022-23 academic year or the first available opportunity, NC State shall reduce the total number of grant-in-aid awards by one scholarship in the sport of men’s basketball.


5. Recruiting Restrictions: (a) Reduce the number of official visits by one during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years, and prohibit unofficial visits during a two-week period during the 2019-20 academic year; (b) A four-week recruiting communication (telephone and written correspondence) ban for the 2021-22 academic year; and (c) An eight-day reduction in the number of recruiting person days for the 2021-22 academic year including the summer 2022.


6. Show-Cause Order: The former head coach is responsible for the violations committed by a member of his staff. He failed to monitor the recruitment of prospective student-athlete No. 1, as set forth in allegation No. 3, and failed to rebut the presumption of head coach responsibility as set forth in Bylaw 11.1.1.1. Therefore, the former head coach will be informed in writing by the NCAA that the hearing panel prescribes a one-year show-cause order pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.5.4 that shall run from December 20, 2021, to December 19, 2022.


7. Show-Cause Order: The former assistant coach committed multiple violations. He directly or indirectly arranged for a $40,000 payment to prospective student-athlete No. 1. He knowingly provided approximately $6,681 in impermissible recruiting entertainment benefits in the form of complimentary admissions to the men’s basketball office pass list to the former trainer and to prospective student-athlete No. 1’s friends and family, falsifying these individuals’ designations so that they would escape the compliance staff’s detection. He did not cooperate with the investigation into this matter, failing to respond to multiple requests for interviews and records. His actions were willful, intentional and unethical, and threatened the integrity of the NCAA Collegiate Model. Therefore, the former assistant coach will be informed in writing by the NCAA that the hearing panel prescribes a six-year show-cause order pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.5.4 that shall run from December 20, 2021, to December 19, 2027.


8. Vacation of team and individual records: Prospective student-athlete No. 1 competed while ineligible as a result of the impermissible inducements and/or benefits. Therefore, pursuant to Bylaws 19.9.7-(g) and 31.2.2.3, NC State shall vacate all regular season and conference tournament wins, records and participation in which prospective student-athlete No. 1 competed from the time he became ineligible through the time he was reinstated as eligible for competition (if applicable). Further, if prospective student-athlete No. 1 participated in NCAA postseason competition at any time that he was ineligible, NC State’s participation in the postseason contests in which the ineligible competition occurred shall be vacated. The individual records of ineligible prospective student-athlete No.1 shall also be vacated. However, the individual finishes and any awards for all eligible student-athletes shall be retained. Further, NC State’s records regarding its men’s basketball program, as well as the records of its former head coach, shall reflect the vacated records and be recorded in all publications in which such records are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material, electronic and digital media, plus institutional, conference and NCAA archives. Any institution that may subsequently hire the affected former head coach shall similarly reflect the vacated wins in his career records documented in media guides and other publications cited above. Head coaches with vacated wins on their records may not count the vacated wins toward specific honors or victory “milestones” such as 100th, 200th or 500th career victories. Any public reference to the vacated records shall be removed from the athletics department stationery, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear. Any trophies awarded by the NCAA in the affected sport program shall be returned to the Association. Finally, to aid in accurately reflecting all institutional and student-athlete vacations, statistics and records in official NCAA publications and archives, the institution's media relations director (or other designee as assigned by the director of athletics) must contact the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office and appropriate conference officials to identify the specific student-athletes and contests impacted by the penalties. In addition, the institution must provide the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office with a written report detailing those discussions. This written report will be maintained in the permanent files of the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office. This written report must be delivered to the office no later than 14 days following the release of this decision. A copy of the written report shall also be delivered to the hearing operations staff at the same time.


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