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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Clark Atlanta University (Division II)

The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Clark Atlanta University (Division II)

The NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions (“COI” or “Committee”) is an independent administrative body comprised of individuals from the NCAA Division II membership and the public charged with deciding infractions cases involving member institutions and their staffs. This case involved impermissible benefit violations in the men's basketball program at Clark Atlanta University (“Clark Atlanta” or “institution”), as well as a head coach responsibility violation by the former head men's basketball coach (“head coach”). COI considered this case through the cooperative summary disposition process in which Clark Atlanta, the head coach and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed to the primary facts and violations as fully set forth in the summary disposition report (“SDR”). COI proposed additional penalties for Clark Atlanta and the head coach. Clark Atlanta and the head coach accepted the penalties. Therefore, neither party was permitted to appeal.

The Committee concluded that Clark Atlanta committed the following violations:

Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaws 14.12.1, 16.8.1 and (2019-20)

The institution, head coach, and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that during the 2019-20 academic year, the head coach provided impermissible benefits in the form of one check each to the fathers of student-athlete 1 and student-athlete 2. In both instances, the head coach drew the checks on an account of an off-campus charitable foundation of which the head coach is a founder and director. The combined value of the impermissible benefits was $1,066.00. As a result of the impermissible benefits, student-athlete 1 and student-athlete 2 competed in a total of 24 contests and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible.

On October 28, 2019, the head coach provided student-athlete 1's father a check in the amount of $591.00 as reimbursement for student-athlete 1's 2019 fall semester textbooks. Due to the improper benefit, student-athlete 1 subsequently competed and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible in 18 contests. NCAA Bylaws 14.12.1, 16.8.1 and (2019-20).

On February 9, 2020, the head coach provided student-athlete 2's father a check in the amount of $475.00 as reimbursement for student-athlete 2's 2019-20 enrollment fees. Due to the improper benefit, student-athlete 2 subsequently competed and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible in 6 contests. NCAA Bylaws 14.12.1, 16.8.1 and (2019-20).

Violations of NCAA Division II Manual Bylaw (2019-20)

The institution, the head coach, and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the head coach failed to rebut the presumption of responsibility for the violations outlined above and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, the head coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance due to his personal involvement in the violations.

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

1. Public reprimand and censure through the release of the public infractions decision.

2. Probation: One year of probation from March 4, 2022, through March 3, 2023.

3. During this period of probation, Clark Atlanta shall: (a) Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive compliance and educational program on NCAA legislation to instruct coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all institutional staff members with responsibility for ensuring compliance with NCAA legislation on certification and recruiting; (b) Submit a preliminary report to the Office of the Committees on Infractions by April 30, 2022, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program; (c) File with the OCOI a final compliance report indicating the progress made with this program by January 31 during each year of probation. Particular emphasis shall be placed on the institution's rules education and monitoring efforts related to impermissible benefits for men's basketball coaches, staff and student-athletes. Moreover, Clark Atlanta must include specific examples of benefit-related education provided to Clark Atlanta coaching staff members regarding external foundation funds; (d) Inform prospects in the men's basketball program in writing that Clark Atlanta is on probation for one year and detail the violations committed. If a prospect takes an official paid visit, the information regarding violations, penalties and terms of probation must be provided in advance of the visit. Otherwise, the information must be provided before a prospect signs a National Letter of Intent; and (e) Publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the infractions by providing, at a minimum, a statement to include the types of violations and the affected sport program and a direct, conspicuous link to the public infractions decision located on the athletics department's main webpage "landing page" and in the media guides for the affected sport programs. The institution's statement must: (i) clearly describe the infractions; (ii) include the length of the probationary period associated with the case; and (iii) give members of the general public a clear indication of what happened in the case to allow the public (particularly prospects and their families) to make informed, knowledgeable decisions. A statement that refers only to the probationary period with nothing more is not sufficient.

4. Clark Atlanta shall pay a $3,500 fine.

5. Show-cause order: The head coach violated well-established rules around extra benefits when he paid a total of $1,066 in impermissible benefits to the fathers of two men's basketball student-athletes. Despite robust education surrounding fundraising activities for his personal foundation, the head coach admitted that he drew checks from his off-campus charitable foundation to reimburse book and application fees for the two men's basketball student-athletes during the 2019-20 academic year. His actions demonstrated his failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance due to his personal involvement in the violations. Therefore, the head coach shall be subjected to a one-year show-cause order from March 4, 2022, through March 3, 2023. In accordance with Bylaw and COI IOP 5-16-1, during the show-cause period, any employing institution of the head coach shall require the following: (a) The head coach shall complete the rules educational modules reference in Bylaw 11.6 within the thirty days of the beginning of such employment; (b) The head coach shall meet with the institution's athletics compliance staff on a monthly basis for rules education related to financial aid and extra benefits; (c) The head coach shall attend the next scheduled NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at his own expense; (d) The head coach should not make any representations, whether oral or in writing (including via electronic communication) to prospective student-athletes, student-athletes, or their families about the amount of institutional financial aid available for the relevant prospective student-athlete or student-athlete unless a member of the institution's financial aid staff or athletics compliance staff is party to the communication; and (e) Because his violations were contrary to core NCAA principles, and pursuant to Bylaw 19.5.2-(p), any employing institution shall suspend the head coach for one contest, specifically the next-occurring regular season contest of the relevant sport program during the show-cause period, if any. The provisions of any such suspension require the head coach not to be present in the facility where the contest is played and have no contact or communication with the specific sport's program's coaching staff members or student-athletes during the contest-suspension. The prohibition includes all program activities for the period of time that begins at 12:01 a.m. on the day of the contest and ends at 11:59 p.m. that day. If the head coach is employed as a head coach at that time, the results of any contest from which he is suspended shall not count toward his career coaching record. Any NCAA member institution employing the head coach during the one-year show-cause period shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the OCOI to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply.

6. Vacation of records: Clark Atlanta acknowledged that ineligible participation occurred as a result of the violations in this case. Therefore, pursuant to Bylaws 19.5.2-(g) and Executive Regulations and, Clark Atlanta shall vacate all regular season and conference tournament records and participation in which ineligible student-athletes detailed in this case competed from the time they became ineligible through the time they were reinstated as eligible for competition. This order of vacation includes all regular season competition and conference tournaments. Further, if the ineligible student-athletes participated in NCAA postseason competition at any time they were ineligible, the institution's participation in the postseason shall be vacated. The individual records of the ineligible student-athletes shall also be vacated. However, the individual finishes and any awards for all eligible student-athletes shall be retained. Further, the institution's records regarding its athletics programs, as well as the records of the head coach, shall reflect the vacated records and shall 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 head coach shall similarly reflect the vacated wins in their 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 contests shall be removed from the athletics department stationary, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear. Any trophies awarded by the NCAA in these sports shall be returned to the Association. Finally, to ensure that all institutional and student-athlete vacations, statistics and records are accurately reflected in official NCAA publications and archives, the sports information 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 document 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 or, if the vacation penalty is appealed, at the conclusion of the appeals process. The sports information director (or designee) must also inform the Office of the Committees on Infractions of this submission to the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office.


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