It’s the sports dead season again and, as is rapidly becoming a tradition around these parts, we find ourselves updating the table of violations for a school on our Compare and Contrast board. This edition’s winners are the South Carolina Gamecocks and the rather surprising conclusion to a two year investigation into improper benefits for the football team.
On April 27th, the NCAA Committee on Infractions released the dreaded Public Infractions Report (PIR). As you may know from our previous work, the Public Infractions Report is the document outlining the final decisions of the Committee and the ultimate penalties resulting from their violations. The document is particularly helpful in giving a window into the inner workings of the investigation. Sometimes that can be more interesting even than the penalties leveled at the institution.
Obviously, we’re still waiting on several other NCAA documents. That wait could stretch on for as long as a couple years, particularly for Miami and Oregon. We’ll include those documents when we can.
Until then, you can find our previous update here. That includes the full information available on all of the other investigations.
As we’ve included before, access to South Carolina’s Notice of Allegations (PDF) is readily available. Since our last update, they have also released their Response to Allegations and Public Infractions Report. We can now fully complete their table.
|1||The Whitney Hotel, an agency of the University’s interests, provided extra benefits of $47,000 to 12 student athletes in the form of reduced rent. The hotel also made special arrangements with 9 student athletes to pay their rent at later dates – an impermissible loan.||16.02.3, 22.214.171.124, and 126.96.36.199-(a)||Agreed*|
|2||From Spring 2009 to February 2011, Kevin Lahn and Steve Gordon, both representatives of the University’s interests, made impermissible recruiting contacts, provided impermissible recruiting inducements to prospective student-athletes, and provided extra benefits to student-athletes. All benefits totaled over $8,000.||13.01.3, 13.01.4, 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206, 13.2.1, and 220.127.116.11||Agreed|
|3||The institution violated the principles of rules compliance by not sufficiently monitoring housing arrangements at the Whitney Hotel, nor the activites of Kevin Lahn and Steve Gordon.||2.8.1||Agreed|
* One question was raised – when exactly did the Hotel officially earn the status of “agency of the University’s interests”. The answer to that question was “August 2009″, when Compliance Staffers became aware that the Hotel was charging a specific rate to two football student-athletes.
Scope: Four Sports (Football, Men’s Basketball, Men’s and Women’s Track and Field)
South Carolina’s violations are pretty significant. Most surprising is the Whitney Hotel Allegations. Apparently the Hotel was providing room for football players and women’s track and field athletes at the tune of $14.59 per night for more than 400 nights in some cases. If you do the math, that comes out to a discount of approximately $41.32 per night. In one case that works out to more than $19,200 in extra benefits for a single player on the team – who was occupying a two bedroom suite on his own. Talk about a sweet deal.
Despite the wording of that last charge being a little unusual, that still seems to be a “failure to monitor” charge. All of the failure to monitor charges above are violations of NCAA Constitution part 2.8.1, and that’s exactly what toUSC was handed down. This is probably a reasonable level of punishment considering how expansive the violations were, but how little the coaches seem to have known about it.
I’m certain that many people will ask how South Carolina managed to avoid the “Lack of Institutional Control” charge. The sheer amount of extra benefits are rivaled only by those in the USC case, and considering the number of sports, you would think that this would be a great example of a lack of control. However, the Committee makes their thinking clear,
The institution appeared to have measures in place to ensure institutional control of its athletics program, including a committed staff, a comprehensive NCAA rules-education program, a number of compliance monitoring systems and a good history of reporting secondary violations. Unfortunately, some of the institution’s athletics staff members missed opportunities to detect the violations set forth in Finding B-2, and as a result, the institution agreed that it failed to monitor the athletics program.
This is similar to the reason the Buckeyes received only a Failure to Monitor charge. There was a reasonable expectation that South Carolina should have caught on to what was happening, but the NCAA was impressed with the level of compliance at the institution anyway. Having a good compliance department is the NCAA “get out of jail free card”.
The other major issue we’ve been interested in following is how well the various institutions have satisfied Bylaw 19.01.3 – the “Responsibility to Cooperate” bylaw. South Carolina’s Public Infractions Report is particularly unique in this regard. The document explicitly quotes comments from the Committee regarding South Carolina’s cooperation,
(The institution) exceeded expectations by adding additional individuals to be interviewed that really helped flush out certain facts (comprising Findings B-1 and B-2). Additionally, before the enforcement staff had an opportunity to execute its document request, the institution provided the enforcement staff with the most damaging information, (the email from representative 1 to the institution’s president) requesting (the president’s) assistance in the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete.
That’s about as cooperative as an institution can get.
Unlike many of the teams on our list, South Carolina’s self-imposed penalties were mostly accepted. These penalties included: