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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Jacksonville State University

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that Jacksonville State University (“JSU” or “institution”) committed violations of NCAA legislation. JSU, the assistant football coach (“assistant coach”), and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from January 18, 2019, through November 6, 2020, the assistant coach had impermissible contacts with a football student-athlete (“student-athlete 1”) who was enrolled at (“institution 2”), a four-year NCAA Division I institution, via telephone calls and text messages without first obtaining written permission from the Division I institution or authorization through the notification of transfer process.


In December 2020, the director of athletics received information from student-athlete 1's institution alleging that the assistant coach had impermissible contacts with student-athlete 1. JSU reviewed the information and self-reported the violation to the NCAA enforcement staff on February 2, 2021. Further, the institution declared student-athlete 1 ineligible and requested his reinstatement. The parties engaged in a collaborative investigation to determine the violation's scope.


The investigation revealed that JSU recruited current JSU football student-athlete (“student-athlete 2”) and high school friend of student-athlete 1, while student-athlete 2 was in high school. During a phone call in November 2016, student-athlete 2 introduced student-athlete 1, who was then a junior in high school, to the assistant coach based on their mutual shared beliefs and religious faith. From that point, the assistant coach and student-athlete 1 developed a mentor/mentee relationship. Regardless of the relationship, JSU did not recruit student-athlete 1. Student-athlete 1 enrolled at institution 2 in the fall of 2018.


Student-athlete 1 and the assistant coach's mentor/mentee relationship continued after student-athlete 1's enrollment at institution 2. Phone records demonstrated that the assistant coach and student-athlete 1 exchanged 450 text messages and at least 10 phone calls from January 18, 2019, through November 6, 2020, while student-athlete 1 was enrolled at institution 2. The content of the messages included religious scriptures, motivational quotes and/or general encouragement.


In August 2020, student-athlete 1's father contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized for a month near his hometown of Daphne, Alabama. Due to his father's illness and desire to be closer to home, student-athlete 1 entered the transfer portal November 18, 2020 and, subsequently, enrolled at JSU in January 2021. After the institution self-reported the violations, the NCAA academic and membership affairs staff reinstated student-athlete 1's eligibility and granted relief from the residence requirement.


This case was resolved through a Negotiated Resolution as Level II—Mitigated.


The Committee found JSU committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.1.1.3 (2018-19 through 2020-21) (Level II)


The institution, assistant coach, and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from January 18, 2019, through November 6, 2020, assistant coach had at least 460 impermissible recruiting contacts with student-athlete 1 without first obtaining written permission from institution 2 or authorization through the notification of transfer process. Specifically, from January 18, 2019, through November 6, 2020, while student-athlete 1 was enrolled at institution 2, the assistant coach exchanged 450 text messages and at least 10 phone calls with student-athlete 1. Student-athlete 1 subsequently enrolled at JSU on January 1, 2021.


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


Aggravating Factors for the Institution

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


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; and

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 Assistant Coach

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


Mitigating Factors for the Head Coach

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

19.9.4-(h): Assistant coach has no prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations during his approximately 12 years as an NCAA coach.


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


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Probation: One year of probation from October 7, 2021, through October 6, 2022.


3. Financial Penalty: JSU shall pay a fine of $5,000 to the NCAA.


4. Recruiting Restrictions: (a) the institution shall prohibit the assistant coach from all recruiting communication for three weeks in the fall of 2021; and (b) the institution shall prohibit the assistant coach from off-campus recruiting for three days in the fall of 2021 and six days in the spring of 2022.


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