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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: University of Texas, El Paso

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Texas, El Paso (“institution” or “UTEP”) committed violations of NCAA legislation.


In November 2019, the then head softball coach (“former head softball coach”) at UTEP, left her position for reasons unrelated to this case. When the current head coach took over the head softball coaching duties, the softball student-athletes asked him when they could begin working on "extras." Because he was confused with this term, the student-athletes explained to the current head coach the custom involved sending a text message to either the former head softball coach or a member of her staff to request additional practice time or individual workouts. During the "extras" time period, the former head softball coach, an assistant coach or coaches and/or graduate assistants viewed and/or participated in the workouts. Concerned with this practice, the current head coach reported the existence of "extras" to athletics compliance. Although the practice violated NCAA countable athletically related activities (“CARA”) legislation, the student-athletes reported that they did not mind it and saw it as an opportunity to improve.


While investigating "extras," the institution learned of another NCAA violation. The former head softball coach employed several graduate assistant managers during her time at the institution. Although the graduate assistants received direction from the institution's compliance staff not to engage in coaching activities, several student-athletes reported receiving instruction from the graduate assistants. The instruction occurred during practice and "extras," and a few student-athletes reported receiving instruction during competition. Many of the graduate assistants hoped to pursue a career in coaching and saw it as an opportunity to gain experience in that area. The institution investigated the matters involving "extras" and the graduate assistant managers, found violations and submitted a self-report to the NCAA enforcement staff.

Additionally, the institution learned of potential violations involving the football team. The NCAA enforcement staff conducted several interviews surrounding a potential academic misconduct issue that was ultimately unsubstantiated. During those interviews, however, a former noncoaching staff member reported that during his two-year tenure at UTEP, he coached while in a noncoaching role. As a result, the NCAA enforcement staff asked the institution to review practice videos from a select time frame to determine if additional noncoaching staff members engaged in coaching activities. The film showed both the defensive and offensive quality control staff members impermissibly providing instruction during practice. The institution and NCAA enforcement staff interviewed all the former quality control staff members and all admitted to engaging in impermissible coaching activities. The quality control staff members acknowledged they received clear guidance from compliance concerning the coaching restrictions; however, these staff members also hoped to pursue a career in coaching and saw the opportunity to gain experience in this area. Further, the head football coach acknowledged that noncoaching staff members engaged in coaching activities. When asked why this happened, the head football coach stated that he did not "watch them closely enough" to prevent them from impermissible coaching.


This case was resolved through a negotiated resolution.


The Committee concluded that UTEP committed the following violations:


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 17.1.7.1, 17.1.7.3.4 and 17.1.7.4 (2016-17 through 2019-20) (Level II)


The institution, the former head softball coach, and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from at least the 2016-17 academic year through November 2019, the former head softball coach required softball student-athletes' participation in CARA beyond NCAA legislated daily and weekly hour in-season limitations and did not provide the required day off during the season. Further, the former head softball coach failed to ensure the accurate recording of student-athletes' countable hours in weekly reports to the compliance staff. Specifically, the violations resulted from "extras" where student-athletes worked with the coaching staff outside of regularly scheduled in-season practice times. During the violation period, the former head softball coach exceeded the maximum allowable weekly CARA by approximately 40 hours and the daily/skill instruction limitations by approximately 47 hours.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 11.01.7, 11.7.1, 11.7.1.1 and 11.7.6 (2016-17 through 2019-20) (Level II)


The institution, the former head softball coach, and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that during the 2016-17 academic year through November 2019, the former head softball coach exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches on her coaching staff when she allowed graduate assistant managers to provide skill instruction to the softball team. The graduate assistant managers provided technical and tactical assistance to student-athletes during voluntary activities and CARA at the institution's softball practice facility and occasionally during games with other coaching staff members present. The team exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches by two during the 2016-17 academic year, by three during the 2017-18 academic year, by three during the 2018-19 academic year and by two from August through November 2019.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaw 11.1.1.1 (2016-17 through 2019-20) (Level II)


The institution, the former head softball coach, and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from at least the 2016-17 academic year through November 2019, the former head softball coach is presumed responsible for the violations detailed above and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, the former head softball coach did not demonstrate that she promoted an atmosphere for compliance because of her personal involvement in the violations. Additionally, the former head softball coach did not demonstrate that she monitored her staff's involvement in the violations.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaw 11.7.1, 11.7.1.1, 11.7.3 and 11.7.4 (2018-19 and 2019-20) (Level II)


The institution, the head football coach, and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed that during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, the head football coach exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches on his coaching staff when he allowed noncoaching staff members to provide skill instruction to the football team. Members of the quality control staff with noncoaching duties provided technical and tactical assistance to student-athletes during CARA with other coaching staff members present. During both in-season and out-of-season CARA, quality control staff members with noncoaching duties engaged in drills and other skill instruction during each CARA session. The team exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches by two during the 2018-19 academic year and 2019 fall semester, and by one during the 2020 spring semester.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaw 11.1.1.1 (2018-19 and 2019-20) (Level II)


The institution, the head football coach, and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years, the head football coach is presumed responsible for the violations detailed above and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, the head football coach did not demonstrate that he monitored his staff because he did not detect noncoaching staff members engaging in impermissible skill instruction.


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


Aggravating Factors for the Institution


A history of Level I, Level II or major violations by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(b).


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


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


Mitigating Factors for the Institution


Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and (for an institution) imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).


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


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


Aggravating Factors for the Former Head Softball Coach


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


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


Mitigating Factors for the Former Head Softball Coach


Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, and acceptance of responsibility. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).


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 Football Coach


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


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


Mitigating Factors for the Head Football Coach


Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, and acceptance of responsibility. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).


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 UTEP as follows:


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Probation: One year of probation from April 20, 2021, through April 19, 2022.


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


4. Show-cause order: The former head softball coach engaged in impermissible CARA and allowed noncoaching staff members to engage in skill instruction. Therefore, the former head softball coach shall be subject to a one-year show-cause order from April 20, 2021, through April 19, 2022. In accordance with Bylaw 19.9.5.4 and NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions Internal Operating Procedure (IOP) 5-15-3, any employing member institution shall restrict the former head softball coach from all coaching activities for a four-week period. Additionally, during the show-cause period, the former head softball coach shall attend the annual NCAA Regional Rules Conference at her own expense. Finally, during the show-cause period, any member institution that employs the former head softball coach shall require the coach to conduct an NCAA rules education session for coaches at that institution discussing lessons learned from the infractions process and the importance of following CARA legislation. Any member institution that employs the former head softball coach in an athletically related position during the one-year show-cause period, shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply.


Head coach restriction: The former head softball coach violated head coach responsibility legislation when she engaged in the violations and failed to monitor her staff's involvement. Bylaw 19.9.5.5 and the Figure 19-1 penalty guidelines contemplate head coach suspensions to address head coach responsibility violations. Therefore, any member institution that employs the former head softball coach in an athletically related position shall suspend the former head softball coach from 15% of softball regular season contests during the first season of the show-cause period. This percentage corresponds with six regular season contests. The suspension shall run concurrently with the show-cause order. The provisions of this suspension require that the former head softball coach not be present in the facility where the contests are played and have no contact or communication with softball coaching staff members or student-athletes during the six contest-suspension period. The prohibition includes all coaching 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. During that period, the former head softball 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 former head softball coach is suspended shall not count toward the former head softball coach's career coaching record.


5. Show-cause order: The head football coach allowed noncoaching staff members to engage in skill instruction. Therefore, the head football coach shall be subject to a one-year show-cause order from April 20, 2021, through April 19, 2022. In accordance with Bylaw 19.9.5.4 and COI IOP 5-15-3, any employing member institution shall restrict the head football coach from four days of team practices during the 2021-22 academic year. The provisions of this withholding require that he not be present in the football complex or facility where practice takes place and have no contact or communication with football staff or student-athletes during the withholding period. The prohibition includes all coaching activities for the period of time that begins at 12:01 a.m. on the days of the practices and ends at 11:59 p.m. on those days. During that period, the head football coach may not participate in any coaching activities including, but not limited to, team travel, video study, recruiting and team meetings. Additionally, the head football coach shall not participate in 10 days of off campus recruiting during the 2021-22 football contact period. During the 2020-21 or 2021-22 academic year, UTEP or any employing institution shall require the head football coach to conduct a rules education session for coaches at that institution discussing lessons learned from the infractions process and the importance of following countable coaches legislation. Finally, during the 2020-21 or 2021-22 academic year, any employing institution shall require the head football coach to attend the annual Regional Rules Conference at his own expense. UTEP or any member institution that employs the head football coach in an athletically related position 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. Softball: During the 2021-22 academic year, a reduction in the number of permissible CARA hours from 20 to 18 (in-season) and from eight to seven (out of season).


7. Softball: During the 2021-22 academic year, a reduction in the number of countable coaches by one for six days of practice (24 hours total). The reduction will remove a countable coach who otherwise would have been present at practice.


8. Football: During the 2021-22 academic year, a reduction in the number of countable coaches by one for six days of practice (24 hours total). The reduction will remove a countable coach who otherwise would have been present at practice.


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