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University of Mississippi Committee on Infractions Decision Summary
On September 11-12, 2017 the University of Mississippi participated in an in-person hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions regarding allegations involving its Football program. Below is a summary of the infractions which were found by the Committee on Infractions to have occurred along with the resulting penalties.
- In 2010, the former operations coordinator and a former assistant coach arranged for prospects to obtain fraudulent entrance exam scores. The prospects used the fraudulent scores to satisfy NCAA initial eligibility requirements and later practiced, received athletically related aid and competed.
- During the summer of 2010, the former operations coordinator and a former assistant coach violated the principles of ethical conduct when they arranged for a booster to provide impermissible inducements to prospects.
- Former assistant coach violated the principles of ethical conduct, and failed to cooperate in the investigation, when he communicated with other individuals who had knowledge of pertinent facts and provided false or misleading information in an interview.
- Over two years, the former operations coordinator provided false or misleading information in interviews with the institution and enforcement staff.
- Booster 2 violated NCAA recruiting rules when he assisted in recruiting four prospects to the institution by providing them and some family members with impermissible recruiting inducements and arranging contacts between family members and Mississippi coaches. Assistant coach 2 was aware of booster 2’s activities and at times facilitated them. Other members of the football staff also had impermissible recruiting contacts with some of the prospects and their family members.
- For a month, a former assistant coach 4 arranged for impermissible recruiting inducements for acquaintances of a prospect by providing inaccurate information to the assistant recruiting director, who then approved the payment of expenses for acquaintances who accompanied the prospect on his official visit.
- Over three years, a former assistant coach and the former assistant athletic director arranged impermissible recruiting inducements for two prospects and a third prospect’s family and acquaintances by referring them to the retail store for free gear. (This finding is currently under appeal.)
- Over two years, booster 6 provided impermissible free lodging to a student-athlete’s mother and acquaintance.
- Over nearly a year, the former assistant athletic director knowingly arranged impermissible recruiting inducements for prospects and friends of one of the prospects.
- Booster 11 provided cash and free food and drinks to a prospect and his companions at his establishment.
- Throughout student-athlete 1’s recruitment, Boosters 9 and 10 assisted the institution in his recruitment by communicating with him and providing cash payments. The former assistant athletic director initiated the contacts and facilitated the impermissible inducements.
- The former assistant athletic director violated the principles of ethical conduct in over two years when he knowingly arranged impermissible recruiting inducements and arranged recruiting contact and communication between boosters and student-athlete 1 for the purpose of cash payments. Later, he also committed ethical conduct violations when he provided false information in his interview regarding his knowledge of, and involvement in, the violations.
- Booster 7 provided an impermissible cash benefit to student-athlete 13’s mother’s boyfriend.
- Over two years, booster 12 and his car dealership provided the impermissible benefits of complimentary vehicle use to two prospects and an impermissible loan to one of the prospects.
- For over three years, the former head coach was responsible for recruiting and booster violations that occurred in the Mississippi football program. The former head coach fell short of his monitoring responsibilities when members of his staff committed intentional violations and deliberately involved boosters in the recruitment of prized prospects.
- Over five years, Mississippi failed to exercise control of the conduct and administration of its football program because football staff members felt they could continually commit recruiting rules violations, not report known violations and involve boosters in violations. The football program was able to involve boosters in violations because Mississippi fostered a culture that enabled unconstrained and undeterred booster involvement in the recruiting process. (This finding is currently under appeal.)
- In the summer of 2010, former assistant coach 1 referred student-athlete 7 to the Jackson school, which in part led to booster 1 providing student-athlete 1 with impermissible inducements. Assistant coach 1’s actions assisted in arranging for the impermissible inducements and benefits.
- On three official visit weekends during January and February 2013, the video assistant, with the knowledge and approval of the former head coach, produced three personalized recruiting videos that showed multiple prospective student-athletes and members of their families wearing and displaying official team equipment and apparel. On two of the three weekends, the video assistant played the videos for the prospects and their families, also with the knowledge and approval of the former head coach.
- In January 2013, the football program arranged for student-athlete 12 to have access to booster 4’s private hunting land on his official visit. Later, when student-athlete 12 was enrolled at Mississippi during the 2013-14 academic year, the football staff arranged for him to have access to booster 4’s private hunting land on two or three occasions.
- On two occasions during the summer of 2013, former assistant coach 4 allowed student-athlete 13 to stay overnight at his house free-of-charge.
- On December 3, 2013, the former head coach had an impermissible recruiting contact with student-athlete 1, a high school junior, at his high school. The former head coach positioned himself in the high school coach’s office prior to student-athlete 1 arriving at the office in response to a summons from his high school coach, making contact likely. After student-athlete 1 came to the high school coach’s office, the former head coach engaged him in a face-to-face conversation in excess of a greeting.
- On May 8, 2014, former assistant coach 4 had impermissible recruiting contacts with two high school prospects at their high school. A high school coach summoned the two prospects to a private room to meet with former assistant coach 4, who spoke to the prospects for approximately 10 minutes. Former assistant coach 4 did not record the interaction on his recruiting logs or report it to the Mississippi administration.
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Three years of probation from December 1, 2017, through November 30, 2020. This probation shall run concurrently with the probationary period in Infractions Case No. 189693, for a total probationary period of four years.
- Mississippi shall pay a financial penalty of $5,000 plus 1% of its average football budget for three years, which was calculated at $179,797. (Institution imposed.) A complete accounting of this financial penalty shall be included in the institution’s annual compliance reports.
- Postseason ban: Mississippi shall end the 2017 football season with its last regular season game and shall not participate in postseason competition. (Institution imposed.) Mississippi shall also end the 2018 football season with its last regular season football game and shall not participate in postseason competition. (The 2018 postseason ban is currently under appeal.)
- Scholarship reductions: Mississippi has reduced, and shall reduce, football grants-in-aid by greater than 15% as outlined below:
- Academic year 2015-16: Overall reduction: 1; Initial reduction: 0
- Academic year 2016-17: Overall reduction: 2; Initial reduction: 3
- Academic year 2017-18: Overall reduction: 6; Initial reduction: 4
- Academic year 2018-19: Overall reduction: 4; Initial reduction: 3
- Totals: 13 grants overall, 10 initial grants. (Institution imposed.)
- Mississippi reduced official visits in the sport of football by nearly 20% for the 2014-15 academic year, based on the previous four-year average. (Institution imposed.)
- Mississippi reduced the number of evaluation opportunities for the full football staff by 10% during the spring 2015 evaluation period (from 168 days to 151) and by 12.5% during the spring 2016 evaluation period. (Institution imposed.)
- Mississippi prohibited all unofficial visits in fall 2017 from September 1 through October 19 and in fall 2016 for five weeks. (Institution imposed.) Additionally, for the full term of probation, Mississippi shall limit all prospective student-athletes in the sport of football to one unofficial campus visit per academic year. (The NCAA-implemented unofficial visit penalty is currently under appeal.)
- Mississippi prohibited assistant coach 2 from off-campus recruiting for 21 days and former assistant coach 4 for 30 days. (Institution imposed.)
- Vacation of records. Due to their receipt of impermissible inducements and benefits as described in Section IV, the student-athletes referenced in the violations were rendered ineligible for collegiate competition. Many of them enrolled at, and competed for, Mississippi. The violations were Level I and Level II, intentional, numerous and occurred over multiple years. Many of the violations involved institutional staff members. Therefore, pursuant to Bylaws 19.9.7-(g) and 18.104.22.168, and consistent with IAC Report No. 306 in University of Memphis (2010) and IAC Report 414 in Syracuse University (2015), Mississippi shall vacate all regular season and postseason wins in which ineligible student-athletes competed from the time they became ineligible through the time they were reinstated as eligible for competition through either the student-athlete reinstatement process or a grant of limited immunity. The individual records of the ineligible student-athletes shall also be vacated. Further, Mississippi’s records regarding football, as well as the record of the head coaches, shall reflect the vacated records and be recorded in all publications in which football records are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material, electronic and digital media plus institutional, conference and NCAA archives. Any institution that may subsequently hire the individuals who served as head coaches when the ineligible participation occurred shall similarly reflect the vacated wins in the head coaches’ career records documented in media guides and other publications cited above. Head coaches with vacated wins on their records may not count the vacated wins to attain specific honors or victory “milestones” such as 100th, 200th or 500th career victories. Any public reference to these vacated contests shall be removed from athletics department stationery, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear. Any trophies or other team awards attributable to the vacated contests shall be returned to the Association. (The portion of this penalty involving booster 5 is currently under appeal.)
- To aid in accurately reflecting all institutional and student-athlete vacations, statistics and records in official NCAA publication and archives, the sports information director (or other designee as assigned by the director of athletics) must contact the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff and appropriate conference officials to identify the specific student-athletes and contests impacted by the penalties. In addition, Mississippi must provide the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff a written report detailing those discussions. This document will be maintained in the permanent files of the NCAA media coordination and statistics department. This written report must be delivered to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff no later than 45 days following the initial infractions decision release or, if the vacation penalty is appealed, at the conclusion of the appeals process. A copy of the written report shall also be delivered to the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) at the same time.
- Disassociation: Mississippi disassociated boosters 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. It has represented that the disassociation is in accordance with Bylaw 19.9.7-(i) and includes additional restrictions. For boosters 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, the period of disassociation is indefinite and includes exclusion from institutional facilities and home athletics events. Boosters 11 and 12 cooperated at least in part with the institution, which therefore disassociated them for three years. During their three-year disassociation periods, Mississippi also excluded them from institutional facilities and home athletics events. (Institution imposed.)
- Additionally, Mississippi shall disassociate booster 5 for a period of not less than three years. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.7-(i), the disassociation shall include:
- Refraining from accepting any assistance from booster 5 that would aid in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes or the support of enrolled student-athletes
- Refusing financial assistance or contributions to Mississippi’s athletics program from booster 5 or his business interests;
- Ensuring that no athletics benefit or privilege is provided to booster 5, either directly or indirectly, that is not available to the public at large; and
- Implementing other actions that Mississippi determines to be within its authority to eliminate the involvement of booster 5 in the institution’s athletics program.
- (This penalty involving booster 5 is currently under appeal.)