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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: St. Francis College Brooklyn

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that St. Francis College Brooklyn (“institution” or “SFCB” or “St. Francis Brooklyn”) committed violations of NCAA legislation.


St. Francis Brooklyn; head women's basketball coach; and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from May 2018 through August 2019, the head women's basketball coach, two assistant women's basketball coaches and the director of athletics had impermissible communications and in-person contacts with three women's basketball student-athletes of another NCAA Division I institution without first obtaining written permission or authorization through the notification of transfer process. The head women's basketball coach also provided these three student-athletes with impermissible inducements. Additionally, the parties agreed that the head women's basketball coach violated head coach responsibility legislation and the institution failed to monitor the head women's basketball coach's relationship with the three student-athletes.


On May 21, 2018, St. Francis Brooklyn hired the head women's basketball coach as its head women's basketball coach and, upon acceptance of this position, she resigned from her role as a head women's basketball coach at another NCAA Division I institution. Subsequently, between May 24, 2018, and August 22, 2019, the head women's basketball coach initiated four impermissible phone calls and sent 249 impermissible text messages to then head coach's former institution women's basketball student-athletes (student-athlete 1, student-athlete 2 and student-athlete 3). Specifically, she initiated one phone call and sent at least 67 text messages to student-athlete 1, initiated two phone calls and sent at least 182 text messages to student-athlete 3 and initiated one phone call and sent multiple text messages to student-athlete 2. The content of the text messages revealed that the exchanges, while impermissible, consisted of cordial conversations. The three student-athletes remained at the head coach's former institution, although one of the student-athletes subsequently became a graduate assistant coach at St. Francis Brooklyn after exhausting her collegiate eligibility at the head coach's former institution.


In addition to the impermissible communications, the head women's basketball coach had 11 impermissible in-person contacts with and provided impermissible inducements to three student-athletes between June 2018 and February 2019. Specifically, June 2, 2018, while traveling on vacation prior to beginning duties at St. Francis Brooklyn, the head women's basketball coach-initiated contact with student-athlete 1 and her father in student-athlete's 1 hometown of Chicago, during which she purchased lunch for student-athlete 1 and her father. On June 3, 2018, while on the same trip, the head women's basketball coach-initiated contact with student-athlete 3 and a friend in student-athlete's 3 hometown of Midland, Michigan, during which she purchased dinner for student-athlete 3 and her friend.


On September 1, 2018, student-athlete 1 and student-athlete 2 traveled to Brooklyn, New York, to attend the 2018 Brooklyn Labor Day Parade. That evening, the head women's basketball coach had impermissible in-person contact with and provided an impermissible inducement to them when she paid for their dinner. Additionally, on September 9, 2018, she and one of her then assistant women's basketball coaches visited the head coach's former institution while in the area for a recruiting trip and had impermissible in-person contact with student-athlete 3 outside the playing field of a women's soccer contest. A then assistant director of athletics at the head coach's former institution was present during the brief contact.


On December 8 and 9, 2018, the head women's basketball coach impermissibly visited with the three student-athletes on St. Francis Brooklyn's campus and in the locale of the institution. The student-athletes initiated the visit, reaching out to the head women's basketball coach prior to their trip, and she agreed to host the student-athletes while they were in town. During the visit, the student-athletes viewed the athletics facilities and offices at St. Francis Brooklyn. Additionally, while they were on campus, the director of athletics and an assistant women's basketball coach had impermissible contact with them. The director of athletics acknowledged that the head women's basketball coach introduced her to the three women's basketball student-athletes from the head coach's former institution. That evening, the head women's basketball coach purchased dinner for the three student-athletes and went sightseeing with them in New York City. The head women's basketball coach permitted student-athlete 2 and student-athlete 3 to stay overnight at her home and she provided them with breakfast the following morning.


Subsequently, in February 2019, the three student-athletes again visited the head women's basketball coach in New York City when they were in town for a hair-styling appointment for one of the student-athletes. The student-athletes initiated the trip, notifying the head women's basketball coach in advance, and she agreed to host the student-athletes. Specifically, the student-athletes arrived the afternoon of February 16, 2019, and attended a St. Francis Brooklyn men's basketball game. Following the game, the head women's basketball coach purchased dinner for them and went sightseeing with them in New York City. That same night, she allowed student-athlete 2 and student-athlete 3 to stay at her home and provided them with breakfast the following morning. Additionally, prior to the student-athletes' departure from New York City, the head women's basketball coach allowed student-athlete 1 and student-athlete 3 to attend a women's basketball team scouting video meeting and have impermissible in-person contact with two then assistant women's basketball coaches.


On or about February 26, 2019, the NCAA enforcement staff notified St. Francis Brooklyn's compliance staff that it had received information concerning impermissible contacts between the head women's basketball coach and women's basketball student-athletes at the head coach's former institution. Subsequently, on March 7, 2019, the NCAA enforcement staff sent a letter of inquiry to the institution requesting copies of the head women's basketball coach's phone records, which included impermissible communications with the three women's basketball student-athletes. As a result, the NCAA enforcement staff initiated an investigation and conducted interviews that confirmed the impermissible communications as well as the in-person contacts and impermissible inducements.


Regarding head coach responsibility, the head women's basketball coach failed to report the on-going impermissible contacts or seek guidance from the athletics compliance office about the permissibility of her interactions with her former institution's student-athletes prior to the enforcement staff contacting St. Francis Brooklyn. During her interview, the head women's basketball coach explained she did not think the communications were contrary to NCAA legislation due to her "close" preexisting relationship with the three student-athletes. She described and the student-athletes interviewed confirmed that her approach to coaching included developing a close relationship with her student-athletes, which transcended her leaving her prior institution. She also believed the legislation prohibiting contact with the women's basketball student-athletes was based solely on whether the student-athlete intended to transfer. As a result, the head women's basketball coach did not attempt to conceal her contact with the student-athletes and was, in fact, forthcoming once notified by the NCAA enforcement staff and learning that she had violated rules.


Finally, the institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the institution failed to monitor the head women's basketball coach's relationship and communications with the women's basketball student-athletes from her former institution. As discussed above, in December 2018, the director of athletics met the three student-athletes when they attended a St. Francis Brooklyn men's basketball game during a trip to New York City to visit the head women's basketball coach. Further, the director of compliance saw the three student-athletes at the men's basketball game wearing the head coach's former institution clothing. However, because they did not believe it was impermissible for a coach's former student-athletes to visit the coach as long as the interactions were social and not of a recruiting nature, neither the director of athletics nor director of compliance detected, reported or took action to deter the violations. Further, after the enforcement staff notified the institution of potential impermissible communications between the head women's basketball coach and the women's basketball student-athletes from the head coach's former institution in late February and early March 2019, the institution failed to prevent further text communication between the head women's basketball coach and the student-athletes. The head women's basketball coach acknowledged in an email to athletics administration that she had ongoing electronic communication with the three student-athletes during the spring and summer of 2019; however, she continued to have electronic communications with the women's basketball student-athletes from the head coach's former institution until requested to cease by the enforcement staff in September 2019.


The parties agreed that the overall processing level for the case is Level II and that the case should be properly resolved as Level II–Standard for the institution and Level II-Standard for the head women's basketball coach. This case was resolved through a negotiated resolution.


The Committee concluded that SFCB committed the following violations:


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.2.1 (2017-18 and 2018-19), 13.1.1.3 (2017-18 through 2019-20) and 13.2.1.1-(h) and 13.7.3.1 (2018-19) (Level II)


The institution, the head women's basketball coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from May 2018 through August 2019, the head women's basketball coach, two assistant women's basketball coaches and the director of athletics had impermissible communications and in-person contacts with three student-athletes of another NCAA Division I institution. The head women's basketball coach and representatives of the institution engaged in the impermissible communications and contacts without first obtaining written permission or authorization through the notification of transfer process. Additionally, the head women's basketball coach also provided impermissible inducements to the same three women's basketball student-athletes.


Between May 24, 2018, and August 22, 2019, the head women's basketball coach called and text messaged student-athlete 1, student-athlete 2 and student-athlete 3 as follows:


• The head women's basketball coach initiated a telephone call with student-athlete 1 once and text messaged her at least 67 times.

• The head women's basketball coach initiated a telephone call with student-athlete 2 once and text messaged her multiple times.

• The head women's basketball coach initiated telephone calls with student-athlete 3 twice and text messaged her at least 182 times.


NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3 (2017-18 through 2019-20).


On June 2, 2018, the head women's basketball coach traveled to Chicago and had impermissible in-person contact with student-athlete 1 and her father. In addition, the head women's basketball coach provided student-athlete 1 and her father with a meal during the impermissible contact. NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3 (2017-18).


On June 3, 2018, the head women's basketball coach traveled to Midland, Michigan, and had impermissible in-person contact with student-athlete 3. In addition, she provided student-athlete 3 and her friend with a meal during the impermissible contact. NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.3 and 13.2.1 (2017-18).


On September 1, 2018, the head women's basketball coach had in-person contact with student-athlete 1 and student-athlete 2 following their attendance at the 2018 Brooklyn Labor Day Parade. In addition, she provided them a meal during this impermissible contact. NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.3 and 13.2.1 (2018-19).


On September 9, 2018, the head women's basketball coach and one of her assistant women's basketball coaches traveled to the head coach's former institution and had in-person contact with student-athlete 3 outside of the playing field of a women's soccer game at the head coach's former institution. NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3 (2018-19).


On December 8 and 9, 2018, the three student-athletes visited the head women's basketball coach on the institution's campus and in the locale of the institution. During the impermissible contact, the three women's basketball student-athletes viewed St. Francis Brooklyn's athletics facilities and offices. The head women's basketball coach took the student-athletes sightseeing in the locale of the institution and paid for dinner. That same night, she allowed student-athlete 2 and student-athlete 3 to stay overnight at her home and provided breakfast the following morning. In addition, the director of athletics and one assistant women's basketball coach had impermissible in-person contact with the three student-athletes. NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.3, 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(h) and 13.7.3.1 (2018-19).


On February 16 and 17, 2019, the three student-athletes visited the head women's basketball coach on the institution's campus and in the locale of the institution for a second visit. The three women's basketball student-athletes arrived at the institution's campus the afternoon of February 16, 2019, and watched part of a men's basketball contest. Following the men's basketball game, the head women's basketball coach took the student-athletes sightseeing in the locale of the institution and paid for dinner. That same night, she allowed student-athlete 2 and student-athlete 3 to sleep overnight at her home and provided breakfast the following morning. In addition, two assistant women's basketball coaches had impermissible in-person contact with the three student-athletes. NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.3, 13.2.1, 13.2.1.1-(h) and 13.7.3.1 (2018-19).


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 11.1.1.1 (2019-20) (Level II)


The institution, the head women's basketball coach and enforcement staff agree that between May 2018 and August 2019, the head women's basketball coach is presumed responsible for the violations detailed above and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, the head women's basketball coach did not demonstrate that she promoted an atmosphere of compliance due to her personal involvement in the violations, some of which she committed in the presence of her staff.


Violations of NCAA Division I Constitution 2.8.1 (2017-18 through 2019-20) (Level II)


The institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that between December 2018 and August 2019, the scope and nature of the violations detailed above demonstrated that the institution violated the NCAA principle of rules compliance when it failed to adequately monitor the women's basketball program and ensure compliance with NCAA recruiting legislation.


In December 2018, the director of athletics and the director of compliance learned that the three student-athletes from the head coach's former institution visited campus and had in-person contact with the head women's basketball coach. However, neither the director of athletics nor the director of compliance detected, reported or took action to deter violations of NCAA legislation. NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 (2017-18).


In February and March 2019, the enforcement staff notified the institution of potential violations involving the head women's basketball coach's communications with women's basketball student-athletes from the head coach's former institution. Despite being notified of potential issues, the institution did not prevent further violations. NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 (2018-19).


On March 26, 2019, the head women's basketball coach acknowledged in email correspondence she was having ongoing communications with women's basketball student-athletes from the head coach's former institution. Even after the director of athletics and compliance administrator became aware of these previous communications, they failed to prevent further violations of NCAA legislation. NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 (2018-19).


As detailed above, the head women's basketball coach continued having impermissible communications with the student-athletes through August 2019 and only ceased when notified by the enforcement staff. NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 (2019-20).


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


Aggravating Factors for the Institution


Multiple Level II violations by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g).


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


Mitigating Factors for the Institution


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


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


Aggravating Factors for the Head Women’s Basketball Coach


Multiple Level II violations by the involved individual. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g).


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


Mitigating Factors for the Head Women’s Basketball Coach


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


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


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


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Probation: Two years of probation from December 22, 2020, through December 21, 2022.


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


4. Scholarship reduction: The institution shall reduce the number of grants-in-aid awarded in women's basketball by 7% during the 2021-22 academic year. The reduction shall be based on the average amount of aid awarded in women's basketball over the past four years. Specifically, the institution shall be limited to no more than 14 grants-in-aid in women's basketball for the 2021-22 academic year. Pursuant to NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions Internal Operating Procedure (IOP) 5-15-5-2, if the institution has already awarded its full allotment of grants-in-aid for the 2021-22 academic year, it is permitted to take the grant-in-aid reduction in the 2022-23 academic year.


5. Recruiting Restrictions: (a) The institution shall reduce the official paid visits in women's basketball during the rolling 2021-22/2022-23 period by six from the number of visits permissible during the period; (b) The institution shall prohibit unofficial visits in women's basketball for four weeks during the 2021-22 academic year; (c) The institution shall reduce the number of recruiting-person days in women's basketball during the 2021-22 academic year by 22 from the number of recruiting days permissible; and (d) The institution shall prohibit recruiting communications in women's basketball for four weeks during the 2021-22 academic year.


6. Show-cause order: The head coach was personally involved in impermissible communications and contacts as well as the provision of impermissible inducements. Therefore, the head coach shall be subject to a two-year show-cause order from December 22, 2020, through December 21, 2022. In accordance with NCAA Bylaw 19.9.5.4 and Committee on Infractions IOP 5-15-3, any employing member institution shall restrict the head coach from participating in all recruiting communication, contacts and off-campus recruiting for six weeks. There shall also be a reduction of three evaluation days for the head coach during the next recruiting cycle. The head coach will attend two NCAA Regional Rules Seminars in 2021 and 2022. St. Francis Brooklyn, or any member institution that employs the head coach in an athletically related position during the two-year show-cause period, shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the office of the Committees on Infractions to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply.


7. Head coach restriction: The head coach violated head coach responsibility legislation when she failed to demonstrate that she promoted an atmosphere of compliance due to her personal involvement in the violations, some of which she committed in the presence of her staff. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.5.5 and the Figure 19-1 penalty guidelines contemplate head coach suspensions to address head coach responsibility violations. Therefore, St. Francis Brooklyn or any member institution that employs the head coach in an athletically related position shall suspend the head coach from three regular season contests (approximately 17% of the regular season competitions) during the 2020-21 season.6 The suspension shall run concurrently with the show-cause order. The provisions of this suspension require that the head coach not be present in the facility where games are played and have no contact or communication with women's basketball coaching staff members or student-athletes during the suspension period. The prohibition includes all coaching activities for the period of time that begins at 12:01 a.m. the day of the game 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 toward her career coaching record.


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