The University of Georgia head swimming and diving coach did not promote an atmosphere for compliance when he made special arrangements for a student-athlete to enroll in an independent study course to maintain eligibility, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.
Penalties include a $5,000 fine, a nine competition suspension for the head coach and a one-year recruiting restriction for the head coach.
During the fall 2013 semester, the head coach was concerned that a student-athlete might not meet progress-toward-degree requirements and would not be eligible for competition the following semester. The head coach reached out to athletics administrators to discuss options, including adding an independent study class to ensure eligibility. The senior associate athletics director told the coach that adding the course was not recommended because classes for the current semester had ended.
After told not to get involved and not to proceed with the independent study course, the head coach asked a professor in the psychology department to admit the student-athlete into a pass/fail independent study course. The professor agreed and it was determined the student-athlete would complete the work the following semester. The student-athlete did not meet the prerequisites for the course, so the professor agreed to waive those requirements. Because the head coach created the special arrangement, the student-athlete received a benefit not available to the general student body and not allowed by NCAA rules.
The head coach failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance when he set up the special academic arrangement for the student-athlete. The head coach received clear instruction not to contact professors about student-athletes. Despite the instruction, he moved forward with contacting the professor multiple times about the independent study course. The head coach acted contrary to university policy and to the advice and caution provided by the staff responsible for athletic academic services and athletics eligibility certification. The coach also did not consult with the compliance office.
Penalties and corrective measures include:
Public reprimand and censure.
A fine of $5,000.
A one-year show-cause order for the head coach from April 4, 2014 through April 3, 2015. The panel adopted the university’s suspension of the head coach beginning in 2014 and continued the suspension until 2015. The head coach is restricted from all recruiting duties during that period. Additionally, the head coach will be suspended for nine regular season competitions during the 2014-15 season. The public report contains additional details.
Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State University; Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer and athletics director at Xavier University; Thomas Hill, senior vice president for student affairs at Iowa State University; Roscoe Howard, Jr., attorney; Joel Maturi, former University of Minnesota athletics director; and Sankar Suryanarayan, university counsel, Princeton University.