NCAA Announces Penalties for Infractions in the UK Football Program

Jan. 31, 2002

Full Report by the NCAA Committee on Infractions
UK President Lee Todd Quotes
UK Athletics Director Larry Ivy and UK Head Coach Guy MorrissQuotes


INDIANAPOLIS---The University of Kentucky will not be permitted to participate in a bowl game during the 2002 season and football scholarships will be reduced for the next three seasons because of numerous actions by a former football recruiting coordinator that involved gifts of cash to high school coaches and prospective student-athletes.

The Division I Committee on Infractions also made a finding of lack on institutional control against the institution and failure to monitor against the former head football coach. The university was placed on three years of probation.

The former recruiting coordinator was found in violation of ethical conduct bylaws and received an eight-year show-cause order. A show-cause penalty requires any NCAA institution that employs or seeks to employ the involved individual to demonstrate to the Committee on Infractions why a penalty should not be imposed upon the institution if it does not limit the individual's athletically related duties for a specified time.

In its report, the committee said the case was one of the more serious it has heard in recent years in terms of the scope and breadth of violations. Most of the information in the case was investigated and self-reported by the university, and the committee said the university acted quickly to investigate violations and punish those involved once it became aware of the activities.

The former recruiting coordinator conducted meetings with representatives of the university's athletics interests and collected donations from those in attendance at the end of the meeting. For example, at one meeting in 1999, he collected $1,200, at another in 2000, he collected more than $800. He told participants the funds would be used for football camps and recruiting.

During the same period of time, the former recruiting coordinator arranged for free lodging for prospective student-athletes and their families who were on unofficial nonpaid visits to the campus and did the same for other prospective student-athletes and their high-school coaches or others who accompanied them. The former recruiting coordinator also gave prospects and high-school coaches university apparel or other items, including game tickets to an away Kentucky football game.

Among specific incidences:

  • In November 1999, the former recruiting coordinator instructed his recruiting assistant to pay for the incidental expenses accumulated by five prospects who were on official recruiting visits to the university. That included $83.48 for telephone calls and $309.42 for in-room movies. He also instructed that the young men were to receive jackets to wear at a home football game. Four prospects were not required to return the jackets. Additionally, the former recruiting coordinator gave one of the prospects $60 for shopping expenses.

  • In October 2000, the recruiting coordinator directed a student worker to purchase money orders totaling $1,400 and send them to a high-school football coach. The payment was provided as incentive to the coach to encourage prospects to attend Kentucky.

  • During an August 2000 meeting at the home of a representative of the university's athletics interests, the former recruiting coordinator solicited contributions of $1,500 from two individuals, who also were boosters. One provided the former assistant with $1,500 and the other with $1,000.

More descriptions of similar incidents are described in the full public report of the Committee on Infractions.

During two academic years, the former recruiting coordinator committed academic fraud by completing or assisting with course work for student-athletes. Beginning in November 1998, some football student-athletes who had academic deficiencies were required to study and complete class assignments in the recruiting coordinator's office. In one instance, the recruiting coordinator prepared a paper for a student-athlete's English class. The student-athlete's instructor returned the paper to him with questions as to whether he had actually done the work. The student-athlete later wrote another paper for submission.

The student-athlete's tutor provided a copy of the original paper to the director of academic services for the university's athletics department. The academic services director spoke to the recruiting coordinator, who said the young man had written the paper. He further said the young man had spent nine hours working on the paper and used a dictionary for all of the words he used. The academic services director spoke to the student-athlete and the class professor and then made a decision that the student-athlete be removed from the recruiting coordinator's study sessions. The next day, the director of academic services received a dictionary that had been autographed by the recruiting coordinator. She was insulted and immediately contacted a university associate director of athletics, who concurred with her decision to end the study sessions. Neither individual contacted the compliance office to express concerns.

That incident contributed to the committee's finding of lack of institutional control. The Committee on Infractions said it was concerned by what it believed was a breakdown in reporting of information relating to potential violations of academic fraud.

In its report, the committee said it reached a determination that a finding of lack of institutional control was appropriate because it "was troubled by the widespread nature of these undetected violations in time, frequency, and the number of individuals who would have some knowledge that the activities were improper and failed to report them to the proper authorities."

The committee's last area of concern regarding institutional control was the university's deficient oversight of expenditures of the Wildcat Club, a football organization. Funds from the organization were used during the 1996-97 year to reimburse assistant strength coaches and student assistants for monthly health insurance premiums. Then, during 1999-00 and 2000-01, the former head football coach requested that monthly checks of $700 be provided to his administrative assistant as supplemental pay.

The former head football coach was found for failure to monitor. The committee reached its finding because the head coach did not provide adequate monitoring of his recruiting coordinator's activities even after being told on three occasions about possible rules violations.

The coach disputed the finding, arguing that as a member of the institution's staff, he was not charged with monitoring responsibilities, according to NCAA bylaws. The committee responded that guidelines in its "Principles of Institutional Control" document outline that head coaches can be held responsible for failure to monitor their assistants and cited several previous cases where that finding has been made.

The committee considered the university's self-imposed corrective actions and penalties. Following is a list of the actions and self-imposed penalties:

  • The university assigned an associate athletics director to administrative oversight duties of the football program.

  • One person will no longer have complete control of recruiting, the entire staff will handle these duties.

  • A new administrative assistant has been hired to work with the head football coach. That individual's responsibilities include handling all money for camps and clinics and making hotel reservations for the football program.

  • The institution has hired a new director of football operations. The individual's duties include coordinating official and unofficial visits.

  • Rules education sessions for all full-time staff members will also include student workers.

  • The football equipment manager is now under the supervision of the associate director of athletics.

  • The compliance office is compiling a camp manual for use by all sports.

  • Each camp director is required to submit a written report to the compliance office. The reports provide information about camp attendees and camp coaches.

  • All university camps are required to channel finances through the accounting office of the athletics department.

  • The assistant athletics director for compliance is now more visible in the football offices, training facilities, practice areas and weight rooms. The assistant athletics director for compliance conducted an educational meeting for football prospects who are in Lexington during the summer before their initial full-time enrollment.

  • At the suggestion of the university president, a compliance line was established using a toll-free number. Employees, student-athletes and representatives of the university's athletics interests may use it to report an incident or concern.

  • No study halls or other types of academic support may be provided outside the direct supervision of the appropriate personnel.

  • The assistant athletics director for compliance will meet each fall with booster organizations affiliated with the university. During this meeting, NCAA prohibitions applicable to booster involvement with student-athletes and prospects are emphasized. In fall 2001, a discussion of improper involvement with the coaching staff and the prohibition against providing supplemental income to any athletics department staff members was discussed.

  • The assistant athletics director for compliance will travel with the football team to the away contests and will monitor complimentary admissions and assist in controlling locker room access.

  • The university agrees to reduce the permissible limit of 25 initial scholarships in the sport of football to 16 in 2002-03, to 18 in 2003-04, and to 22 in 2004-05.

  • The university will reduce the number of official visits to 36 in 2001-02 and to 40 in 2002-03. The university has averaged 47 official visits in the sport of football over the past four years out of the permissible 56.

  • For the next two years, the university will reduce the number of permissible football coaches to recruit off-campus in a given week from seven to six.

  • The former recruiting coordinator's resignation was accepted on November 20, 2000.

  • The former head football coach's resignation was accepted on February 9, 2001.

  • The former administrative assistant to the recruiting coordinator was dismissed from her position.

  • One student worker was reassigned.

  • An assistant football coach will be required to attend an NCAA regional compliance seminar this year at his own expense.

  • One athletics representative was disassociated for a period of three years.

  • Two athletics representatives were disassociated for a period of five years.

  • Another athletics representative and his place of business were disassociated for a period of five years.

The Committee on Infractions noted that Kentucky imposed appropriate corrective measures and meaningful penalties. The committee specifically cited the work of the assistant director of athletics for compliance. Members said their view of additional penalties was tempered by the actions taken by the university to institute changes and to quickly respond to allegations, adding that though there was a finding of a lack of institutional control, the finding did not have a significant impact on the penalties.

  • Public reprimand and censure.

  • Three years of probation from January 31, 2002.

  • The institution's football team will end its 2002 season when it plays its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and will not be eligible to participate in any bowl game or take advantage of the exemption provided in Bylaw for preseason competition.

  • In addition to the self-imposed limit that reduces the number of initial grants in the sport of football to 16 in 2002-03, to 18 in 2003-04, and to 22 in 2004-05 (19 total grants), the university will reduce the total number of football counters available from 85 to 80 during each of those years.

  • The former recruiting coordinator will be informed in writing by the NCAA that, due to his involvement in certain violations of NCAA legislation found in this case, if he seeks employment or affiliation in an athletically related position at an NCAA member institution during an eight-year period, from January 31, 2002, to January 22, 2010, he and any involved institution will be requested to appear before the Committee on Infractions to consider whether the member institution should be subject to show-cause procedures which could limit the athletically related duties of the former coach.

  • Had the university failed to disassociate the athletics representative identified in its list of self-imposed penalties, it would have been required to show cause why it should not be subject to additional sanctions. During the periods of disassociation, the institution is required to refrain from accepting any assistance from the individuals that would aid in recruiting prospective student-athletes or support enrolled student-athletes, refuse financial contributions to the athletics program from the individuals, ensure that no athletics benefit or privilege is provided to the individuals that is not available to the public, and implement other necessary actions to eliminate the involvement of the individuals in the athletics program.

  • The university is required to obtain signature control of all booster club accounts that support the university's athletics department.

  • During the probationary period, the university will continue to develop and implement a comprehensive education program on NCAA legislation and submit periodic reports to the NCAA. At the end of the probationary period, the university's president will provide a letter to the committee affirming that the university's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.

As required by NCAA legislation for any institution involved in a major infractions case, Kentucky is subject to the NCAA's repeat-violator provisions for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case, January 31, 2002.

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case are: Thomas Yeager, committee chair and commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association, Paul Dee, athletics director, University of Miami (Florida), Josephine Potuto, professor of law, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a former members of the committee, Jack Friedenthal, professor of law, George Washington University, and Bonnie Slatton, chair, department of physical education and sports studies, University of Iowa.