2020 Quarter 1 Case Summaries

Kelleigh Irwin Fagan

Author: Kelleigh Irwin Fagan

POST DATE: 4.3.20
Ccha  Sports Law

February 6, 2020 California Polytechnic State University

Division I Infractions Appeal

Facts: Cal Poly appealed the Committee on Infractions (“COI”) decision to prescribe a vacation of records penalty arguing the COI abused its discretion. Cal Poly violated NCAA bylaws governing book-related financial aid and the institution’s responsibility to monitor book stipends.

Cal Poly agreed that it violated book-related financial aid legislation for a period of 3.5 years providing 265 student-athletes impermissible aid across 18 sport programs. The aid was distributed in the form of cash stipends totaling $800 in books and course related supplies. Of the 265 student-athletes, 72 received funds exceeding the cost of books and 30 exceeded their financial aid limits.

Cal Poly argued that the panel abused its discretion when it:

  1. Imposed vacation of records penalty based on the participation of student-athletes who were not culpable and received negligible benefits;
  2. Imposed vacation of records without merit;
  3. Failed to consider or weigh the university’s corrective measures, self-imposed penalties and cooperation; and
  4. Failed to consider that Article 16 mandates that ineligibility begins upon discovery of the violation and that there is a minimum threshold of $200 to affect eligibility.

The COI argued that it appropriately exercised its authority granted by Bylaw 19.9.7(g) and the case precedent used by Cal Poly were either dated or factually dissimilar. The IAC found that factors in COI IOP 5-15-6 were present, making prescription of vacation of records more appropriate. Specifically, the IAC found that the COI did not abuse its discretion because of the large number of violations, the institution’s failure to seek reinstatement for the student-athletes, and a finding that it failed to monitor. It also found the case precedent cited by the institution as outdated or distinguishable. The panel determined that the COI appropriately applied vacation.

Key Takeaways from Cal Poly IAC Decision

  • There is a high burden for institutions to prevail when appealing a COI decision.
  • The vacation penalty has become a hot topic in recent COI and IAC decisions (see TCU (2019), BYU (2019)). Two legislative proposals are on the table for a vote in June 2020, or potentially later. that could significantly alter when vacation is imposed (proposal 2019-94 and 2019-130).
  • This case highlights the importance of seeking reinstatement timely.


A second decision from the IAC during quarter 1 in Florida A&M University (March 12, 2020) upheld a financial penalty of a $5000 fine plus 3% of the institution’s total athletic budget due to eligibility certification violations. The institution argued, among other things, that it was a grant recipient through the NCAA Accelerating Academic Success Program and that the financial penalty would have a detrimental effect on student-athlete academic success. The IAC upheld the financial penalty stating as support for the penalty that case was an “aggravated” case, the institution was already on probation, and the penalty was within the Penalty Matrix.


February 26, 2020 University of Pennsylvania

Negotiated Resolution

Level: Level I-Aggravated for Head Coach, Level I-Mitigated for Institution

Facts: [Note: This the first NCAA decision we have seen from the “Varsity Blues” scandal] From April 2013 through March 2015, the former head men’s basketball coach knowingly accepted supplemental pay in the form of cash and other benefits from a prospect’s father to train, recruit, and increase the likelihood of the prospects’ admission to the university. The head coach received over $300,000.00 in the form of cash, wire transfers, shoes, airfare, meals and lodging, and concert tickets and failed to report outside income to the university because he was trying to keep the arrangement secret. Additionally, the head coach’s actions resulted in 24 impermissible text messages, one impermissible phone call and 13 impermissible tryouts. The head coach failed to cooperate during the NCAA’s investigation by not participating in the investigation or infractions case. According to Bylaw the hearing panel may view his refusal to participate in the interview as an admission that the violations occurred.

Violations Found:

The Division I Committee on Infractions cited violations in the following areas:

  1. Supplemental Pay, Off-Campus Contacts, Athletically-Related Income [NCAA Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1,,,, 13.11.1, 13.14.1,,, 13.4.1, 11.2.2]
  1. Head Coach Responsibility [NCAA Bylaws, 11.1.1]
  1. Unethical Conduct [NCAA Bylaws 10.1, 10.1(a), 19.2.3]


Core Penalties for Institution

1. 2 year probation

2. $5,000.00 fine to the NCAA

3. 3 week ban on recruiting communications for men’s basketball

4. Reduce men’s basketball recruiting person days by 7

Core Penalties for Head Coach

1. 15 year show cause order

2. The year following the show cause period, if he is employed as a coach, he shall be suspended for 50% of the season.

***REMINDER: Negotiated Resolutions have no precedential value in the NCAA Infractions Process***


Additional Cases

The following are brief summaries of additional negotiated resolutions or COI decisions published in the first quarter.

San Diego State University (January 17, 2020) Negotiated Resolution: The women’s volleyball program exceeded CARA limitations due to student-athletes’ participation in involuntary summer activities and participation in open gym during one official visit; the coaching staff also impermissibly organized prospects’ participation in open gyms during on-campus visits. The former head coach violated head coach control principles. The case was Level II-Mitigated for the institution and Level II-Standard for the former head coach. The institution agreed to one year of probation, a $5000 financial penalty, and recruiting restrictions. The head coach agreed to a suspension of two regular season games of the 2020 season.

University of Pittsburgh (February 22, 2020) Negotiated Resolution: Men’s basketball and football committed violations involving the impermissible use of noncoaching staff members. Both head coaches were charged with head coach control violations. The case was Level II-Mitigated for the institution, Level II-Standard for the head football coach and Level II-Aggravated for the former head men’s basketball coach. The institution agreed to three years of probation, $5,000.00 fine + 5% of each the men’s basketball and football budgets and reduced recruiting person days for men’s basketball by 17 in 2017-2018 year. The head football coach did not participate in off campus recruiting during 1 week of December 2019 – February 2020 contact period and will be withheld from 2 days of team practice during Aug 2020. The head men’s basketball coach received a three-year show cause order and if he is employed during that period, will be suspended from 30% of first season of employment. A former director of basketball operations was individually charged and received a three-year show cause order. Neither the head men’s basketball coach nor the director of basketball operations participated in the infractions process.

Siena College (March 9, 2020) Committee on Infractions Decision: Former head coach provided impermissible cash payments to student-athletes, arranged for his staff members to provide long-distance rides to student-athletes, and told the former director of basketball operations to provide coaching to the team. Former head coach argued he misunderstood NCAA rules. COI determined benefits rules are well-known and well-established and the coach failed to consult with compliance. The former head coach also provided false or misleading information during an interview with the NCAA and a booster interfered with the investigation. Violations resulted in 28 student-athletes competing while ineligible. The case was Level II-Standard for the institution and Level II-Aggravated for the former head coach. The institution received three years of probation, a $5000 fine, vacation of records and disassociated the booster for three years. The former head coach received a three-year show cause ordered and a 30% season suspension if he is employed during the show-cause period.

Mississippi Valley State University (March 13, 2020) Negotiated Resolution: Former head women’s soccer coach provided impermissible benefits to an international prospect in the form of a fee related to the prospect’s student visa and a flight. The institution and former head coach agreed the case was Level II-Standard. Penalties included three-year probation, $5000 fine plus 1% of sport budget, recruiting restrictions, and a one-year show cause against the former head coach who is suspended for 20% of the maximum number of allowable contests for women’s soccer for 2020-21.