Making the Case for the Penalties to Syracuse’s Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Making the Case That They Are Unfair

There does not seem to be much disagreement about what has occurred over the last decade to decade and a half in the intercollegiate athletics program at Syracuse University. But there are very significant disagreements between the NCAA and the university administration about what is responsible and about what punishments are appropriate.

I think that it is very telling to follow the links to the competing news releases, starting with the basic news story that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Ticker: http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/ncaa-hits-syracuse-with-suspension-and-scholarship-cuts-over-rules-violations/95201?cid=pm&utm_source=pm&utm_medium=en

That story links to the NCAA report:

 

Syracuse Did Not Control Athletics; Basketball Coach Failed to Monitor

March 6, 2015 11:53amEmily James

 

Over the course of a decade, Syracuse University did not control and monitor its athletics programs, and its head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor his program, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

Syracuse discovered and self-reported 10 violations in this case, which primarily involved men’s basketball but also football. The self-reported violations, dating back to 2001, include academic misconduct, extra benefits, the failure to follow its drug testing policy and impermissible booster activity. The other violations found included impermissible academic assistance and services, the head basketball coach’s failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his staff, and the school’s lack of control over its athletics program.

Penalties in this case, not including those self-imposed by the school, include five years of probation; financial penalties; reduction of three men’s basketball scholarships per year for four years; vacation of wins in which ineligible students participated; a nine conference game suspension for the head basketball coach; and men’s basketball recruiting restrictions for two years. Additionally, the panel accepted the school’s one-year postseason ban in men’s basketball it self-imposed after the NCAA hearing, among other measures outlined in the public decision.

From 2001-02 through 2011-12, the school failed to exercise proper control over the administration of its athletics program and used deficient monitoring systems, which allowed violations to occur involving academics, compliance with its own drug testing policy as well as staff and student relationships with a booster. Students and staff committed violations freely or did not know that their conduct violated NCAA rules. Many of the violations were not detected for years. Staff members did not ask and ensure that relationships and activities with the booster met NCAA requirements. In at least one instance, a staff member did not report potential academic violations due to concern of retaliation.

During the 10-year period of violations, the head basketball coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program and did not monitor the activities of those who reported to him as they related to academics and booster involvement. Although the head basketball coach cited NCAA rules meetings with compliance staff and other initiatives, he operated under assumptions and did not follow up with his staff and students to ensure compliance. Many of the violations occurred in the program and involved his students and staff. Additionally, many of the academic violations stemmed from his director of basketball operations, who the head basketball coach handpicked to address academic matters in the program.

From 2005 through 2007, a part-time tutor and three football students violated ethical conduct rules by engaging in academic misconduct. The tutor certified that the students completed the required number of hours for an internship and gave the professor information about the type of activities performed by the students when he had limited knowledge of activities completed. The students received academic credit for misrepresented work.

In January 2012, the director of basketball operations and a men’s basketball receptionist violated ethical conduct rules when working to restore the eligibility of a men’s basketball student. The two staff members completed coursework for the student after academics and athletics staff met to discuss potential options for the academically ineligible student. The improper academic assistance occurred in 2012 when the school was under investigation for other potential violations and after the NCAA denied an eligibility wavier for the student.

In its decision, the committee specifically addressed its concern about academic integrity.

“Improper institutional involvement and influence in a student’s academic work in order to gain or maintain eligibility is a violation of NCAA rules and a violation of the most fundamental core values of the NCAA and higher education,” the committee wrote. “The behavior in this case, which placed the desire to achieve success on the basketball court over academic integrity, demonstrated clearly misplaced institutional priorities.”

From 2010 through 2012, a support services mentor, who would later become the receptionist involved in the 2012 academic misconduct, and a support services tutor provided impermissible academic assistance to three men’s basketball students. The mentor and tutor made revisions, created or wrote assignments for the basketball students. Although the school determined academic misconduct did not occur, the panel noted revising or writing academic coursework for students was not a part of, or the intent of, the student-athlete support services provided by the school and exceeded the type of support generally available through the program. In January, the Division I Legislative Council determined that schools have the authority to determine whether academic misconduct occurred, however, traditional extra benefit rules still apply.

From 2001 to early 2009, the school did not follow its own written policies and procedures for students who tested positive for banned substances. NCAA rules require that if schools have a drug testing policy in place, it must include substances on the banned list and the school must follow its policy. Syracuse had a written policy; however, the head basketball coach and athletics director admitted they did not follow the policy. The athletics director said the department followed an “unwritten policy” because the written policy was confusing. As a result, basketball students who tested positive on more than one occasion were not withheld from practice and games, as the written policy directed.

A booster developed relationships with men’s basketball and football students and members of the men’s basketball staff. In some instances, the basketball staff encouraged students to develop relationships with the booster, which resulted in rule violations. The booster provided more than $8,000 in cash to three football and two men’s basketball students for volunteering at the YMCA. Additionally, the booster gave money to basketball staff members for appearances or assistance at YMCA events. The staff members did not report the payments to the school as outside income or supplemental pay, as NCAA rules require. The compensation included a free membership to the Syracuse YMCA for a year and a half, cash payments for working events and one month’s rent for one staff member.

The committee noted the timing of this case, as well, adding that numerous issues outlined in the decision delayed the final resolution. “A key indicator of an effective process is timely resolution, which did not occur in this case,” the committee wrote.

In its decision, the panel noted that the duration and nature of violations in this case required penalties beyond what the school self-imposed. Because the violations straddled the implementation of the new penalty structure applied in August 2013, the panel used the former, more lenient penalty structure.

Penalties and measures prescribed by the panel are below:

–Five years of probation from March 6, 2015 through March 5, 2020.

–Vacation of all wins in which ineligible men’s basketball students played in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 and ineligible football students played in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07. The public decision contains additional details.

–Fine of $500 per contest played by ineligible students.

–The school must return to the NCAA all funds it has received to date through the former Big East Conference revenue sharing for its appearances in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

–Suspension of the head basketball coach from the first nine conference games of 2015-16.

–Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by three for the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years. If the school has already executed scholarship offers for the 2015-16 year, the school may begin the four-year penalty with the 2016-17 year.

–Reduction in the number of permissible off-campus recruiters from four to two during June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2017.

–The panel also accepted the school’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-15 season, but noted that self-imposition of penalties after the conclusion of infractions hearings does not influence the outcome.

–Additional self-imposed penalties can be found in the public decision.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Michael Adams, president emeritus of the University of Georgia; Britton Banowsky, chief hearing officer, commissioner of Conference USA; Thomas Hill, senior vice president for student affairs at Iowa State University; Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., attorney; Joel Maturi, former University of Minnesota athletics director; and Greg Sankey, chair of the Committee on Infractions, executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference.

http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/syracuse-did-not-control-athletics-basketball-coach-failed-monitor

Download the Syracuse final public infractions decision

Listen to the press call

_________________________

This first response from Syracuse University came from its Chancellor, Kent Syverud:

 

March 6, 2015

Dear Members of the University Community:

I am writing to update you on the outcome of Syracuse University’s case before the NCAA.

The University initially self-reported potential violations to the NCAA in May 2007 and submitted its written self-report in October 2010–after conducting an internal investigation for three years and five months. The NCAA conducted its own review and 11 months later in 2011 issued a Notice of Allegations, essentially confirming the self-report. While the University was in the process of responding to the Notice of Allegations, a subsequent violation occurred prompting a joint investigation beginning in February 2012. That investigation lasted more than 24 months and concluded with an amended Notice of Allegations in May 2014.

Today the University received the NCAA Committee on Infractions report.

We believe the NCAA’s investigation of Syracuse University has taken longer than any other investigation in NCAA history. The entire process has taken close to eight years and involved a review of conduct dating back to 2001. By comparison, the investigation into the fixing of the 1919 World Series took two months and the 2007 investigation of steroid use in baseball took 21 months.

The University and the NCAA devoted massive resources to this process. Hundreds of thousands of documents were reviewed, hundreds of interviews were conducted, and thousands of hours of human capital were expended.

Syracuse University cooperated throughout the investigation, and its length is a product of decisions we made separately and together. Nevertheless, when I became Chancellor in 2014, I concluded that the process had gone on long enough, and it needed to reach a prompt conclusion. We have worked hard with the NCAA during the last year to complete this matter, and we have done so.

Syracuse University did not and does not agree with all the conclusions reached by the NCAA, including some of the findings and penalties included in today’s report. However, we take the report and the issues it identifies very seriously, particularly those that involve academic integrity and the overall well-being of student-athletes. Syracuse University regrets, and does not dispute, that the following significant violations cited by the NCAA occurred:

Local YMCA
The University discovered that in 2004-2005, two men’s basketball and three football student-athletes received a combined total of $8,335, provided by a part-time local YMCA employee who qualified under NCAA rules as a University athletics “booster.” These monies were purportedly for work done at the YMCA, such as refereeing youth basketball games. Regardless, these monies were prohibited “extra benefits” under NCAA rules, and although these payments were isolated to one individual booster, they never should have occurred. In addition, three of these student-athletes received academic credit in the same course for internships at the YMCA they failed to complete. The University rescinded the credit.

Drug Education and Deterrence Program
The University’s voluntarily-adopted Drug Education and Deterrence Program has been in place for many years, distinguishing our University from those that elect to have no drug testing or rehabilitation program for their student-athletes. Although the NCAA does not require colleges and universities to have a testing program, if one is adopted, a school must follow its terms. The University reported to the NCAA that from 2001 to early 2009 it at times failed to follow the written terms of the program with respect to student-athletes who tested positive for use of marijuana. Although these failures largely were the result of an unnecessarily complicated testing policy and did not involve performance-enhancing drugs, they constitute an NCAA violation, which the University accepts.

Academic Integrity Matters
The University reported that in January 2012, a men’s basketball student-athlete committed academic misconduct. The misconduct occurred when the student-athlete submitted a paper in a course he already passed in an effort to improve his course grade and restore NCAA eligibility. The ability to improve a previous grade is open to all Syracuse University students. The paper was prepared with assistance from two (now former) athletics employees, both of whom were aware their actions were improper and wrong. Their actions, done in secret, went against clear instructions that the student-athlete needed to complete the assignment on his own, and constituted a clear violation of both University academic integrity policy and NCAA rules. The University has acknowledged the now-former staff members’ wrongful conduct and accepts responsibility for their actions. While reviewing this matter, the University found information suggesting these same two individuals, and one tutor, may have assisted three other student-athletes with some academic assignments. Detailed information was submitted through the University’s faculty-led academic integrity process. In each case, faculty failed to find evidence supporting a violation. NCAA bylaws dictate that they must accept an institution’s academic integrity determinations. Notwithstanding, the NCAA determined the same conduct constituted an “extra benefit” to these student-athletes. The University disagrees with the NCAA’s position.

These mistakes must never happen again. That is why beginning in 2009, the University strengthened its policies and reformed a range of student-athlete support services. These proactive steps include:

–Fundamentally restructuring the entire student-athlete academic support office, which now reports solely to Academic Affairs, in lieu of jointly to the Athletics Department;

–Creating a new Assistant Provost for Student-Athlete Development and more than doubling the number of full-time academic support staff for our student-athletes;

–Redesigning the University’s voluntary Drug Education and Deterrence Program for student-athletes, consistent with best practices and peer institutions;

–Establishing an Athletics Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees, that oversees the athletics department and receives reports of athletics issues, including compliance matters;

–Creating an Athletics Compliance Oversight Committee that includes the University’s Faculty Athletics Representative and a representative from Academic Affairs. This committee reviews the status of athletic compliance initiatives and monitors compliance;

–Assigning oversight of the Office of Athletics Compliance to the University General Counsel;

–Implementing new and wide-ranging enhanced compliance training programs for all student-athletes and coaches focused on NCAA, ACC and University rules and policies;

–Taking action to separate employment with two former athletics staff members found to have been involved in academic misconduct; and

–Disassociating non-SU affiliated persons responsible for, or involved in, violations.
In addition to these important changes, the University already self-imposed a series of significant penalties that include:

–A one-year ban from 2014-15 post-season competition for men’s basketball;

–A voluntary, two-year term of probation for the Department of Athletics;

–Elimination of one scholarship for men’s basketball for the 2015-2016 season;

–Elimination of a men’s basketball off-campus recruiter for six months during 2015-2016;

–Vacation of 24 men’s basketball wins (15 in 2004-05 and 9 in 2011-12); and

–Vacation of 11 football wins: (6 in 2004-05; 1 in 2005-06; 4 in 2006-07).
To learn more about the NCAA Investigation, visit http://www.ncaaupdatesyr.com.

Although the University recognizes the seriousness of the violations it has acknowledged, it respectfully disagrees with certain findings of the Committee. Specifically, the University strongly disagrees that it failed to maintain institutional control over its athletics programs, or that Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jim Boeheim has taken actions that justify a finding that he was responsible for the rules violations.

The University is considering whether it will appeal certain portions of the decision. Coach Boeheim may choose to appeal the portions of the decision that impact him personally. Should he decide to do so, we would support him in this step.

Some may not agree with Syracuse University’s positions on these important issues. However, we hope everyone will agree that eight years is too long for an investigation and that a more expeditious and less costly process would be beneficial to student-athletes, public confidence in the NCAA enforcement process, and major intercollegiate athletics in general.

As we move forward, we can celebrate the many positive changes we have made, the academic success of our student-athletes, and the scholarly achievements of each one of our 21,000 students. As we do, I am confident every part of our University will continue to flourish in the years ahead.

Sincerely,

Chancellor Kent Syverud

_________________________

The Syracuse University Communications Department then distributed a news release that essentially reproduces the Chancellor’s letter, but that strangely cites only selected passages as quotations from the Chancellor [http://www.ncaaupdatesyr.com/].

But the oddest detail in both Syracuse news releases is that when basketball coach Jim Boeheim is mentioned, there is a link at his name, which given the context would lead one to believe that the link will take you to some more specifically detailed defense of his actions, perhaps a defense offered by Boeheim himself.

Instead, this is what is at the end of that link:

 

2014-15 Men’s Basketball Coaching Staff

Jim Boeheim

Jim Boeheim
Head Coach

Phone: 2082
Email:

Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim has had a remarkable run as head coach at his alma mater, Syracuse University. Boeheim has guided only winning teams in his tenure and has pushed the Orange into the postseason in all but one of his 37 years. SU has made 30 trips into the NCAA Tournament, including Final Four appearances in 1987, 1996, 2003, and 2013, and the NCAA championship in 2003.

He coached the 2012-13 Syracuse squad to a 30-10 mark and the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. He added to his NCAA Division I record for 20-win seasons by posting his 35th.

Boeheim wrapped up his most recent season as head coach on the Hill with a 920-314 (.746) overall record. During the campaign he became the third coach to reach 900 career victories and moved into second on the all-time list.

Three of Syracuse’s last four campaigns have been among the best in Orange history. In 2009-10, Boeheim guided the Orange to the NCAA “Sweet 16,” the BIG EAST Conference regular-season title and a 30-5 overall record. He was honored with a number of coach of the year awards, including those presented by the Associated Press, Naismith Award, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), and the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). Two seasons ago the Orange set a school record for wins (34) and tied the BIG EAST record for wins (17). Syracuse was ranked in the top five all season and finished the year in the NCAA “Elite Eight.” Syracuse was back in the national rankings in 2012-13 and raced to another appearance in the Final Four.

Boeheim achieved the ultimate basketball tribute in 2005 when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was honored again during the postseason, receiving the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching” Award in April. That spring he and Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun were the “Spirit of Jimmy V” honorees at the annual V Foundation Gala.

Boeheim enrolled at Syracuse in 1962 and was a walk-on with the basketball team. By Boeheim’s senior season, he was a team captain along with the legendary Dave Bing. The Orange were 22-6 overall that year and earned the program’s second-ever NCAA Tournament berth. In 1969 he turned to a career in coaching and was hired as a graduate assistant at SU by head coach Roy Danforth. In 1976, he was appointed head coach at his alma mater.

A four-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year Boeheim has been honored as NABC District II Coach of the Year 10 times and USBWA District II Coach of the Year on four occasions. During the 2000 Final Four he was presented with the Claire Bee Award in recognition of his contributions to the sport. In the fall of 2000, he received Syracuse University’s Arents Award, the school’s highest alumni honor. On February 24, 2002, the University named the Carrier Dome court “Jim Boeheim Court.” Boeheim joined a select group of coaches working the sidelines of a court named after them.

A long-time participant in the USA Basketball program, Boeheim was named 2001 USA Basketball National Coach of the Year. He’s served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic teams that won gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

A champion of many charitable causes, Boeheim started the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation. He has lent his time to Coaches vs. Cancer, Crouse Hospital’s Kienzle Family Maternity Center, the Children’s Miracle Network, the Eldercare Foundation, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Pioneer Center for the Blind and Disabled, Lighthouse, People in Wheelchairs, Easter Seals, the Special Olympics, the Rescue Mission and the Jack Bruen Fund, among others.

Jim and his wife, Juli, are parents of James Arthur Boeheim, III, and twins Jack and Jamie. Jim also has a daughter, Elizabeth.

 

One thought on “Making the Case for the Penalties to Syracuse’s Intercollegiate Athletics Programs and Making the Case That They Are Unfair

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.