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Syracuse University Responds to NCAA Committee on Infractions Report
Syracuse University received the Division I Committee on Infractions report earlier today, concluding a nearly eight-year investigation.
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 issued a Notice of Allegations essentially confirming the self-report in 2011. 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. The University responded to the Notice of Allegations in August 2014 and appeared at a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in October 2014.
The University believes the NCAA’s investigation of Syracuse has taken longer than any other investigation in NCAA history—close to eight years and involving a review of conduct dating back to 2001. The University and the NCAA devoted massive resources to the process. Hundreds of thousands of documents were reviewed, hundreds of interviews were conducted, and thousands of hours of human capital were expended.
Syracuse University does not agree with all the conclusions reached by the NCAA, including some of the findings and penalties included in today’s report. However, the University takes seriously issues of academic integrity and the overall well-being of student-athletes. The University regrets, and does not dispute, that the following significant violations cited by the NCAA occurred:
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 Rome, New York 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 subsequently 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 the University from those that elect to have no drug testing or rehabilitation program for their student-athletes. Although the NCAA does not require schools to have a testing program, if one is adopted, the university 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. Per University policy, the ability to improve a previous grade is open to all 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 the University’s 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 it 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.
Since first self-reporting to the NCAA, the University has implemented a series of best practices, strengthened existing policies and procedures, and reformed a range of student-athlete support services to ensure these mistakes never happen again. These proactive steps include:
- Fundamentally restructuring the entire student-athlete academic support office, that 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
- Disassociating non-SU affiliated persons responsible for, or involved in, violations
In addition to implementing important changes to enhance academic support services and overall compliance, the University already self-imposed a series of significant penalties, including:
- A one-year ban from 2014-15 post-season competition for men’s basketball
- A voluntary, two-year period of probation for the Department of Athletics
- Eliminating one scholarship for men’s basketball for the 2015-2016 season
- Eliminating one off-campus recruiter for men’s basketball for six months during the 2015-2016 academic year
- Vacating 24 men’s basketball wins: 15 for the 2004-05 academic year; 9 for the 2011-12 academic year
- Vacating 11 football wins: 6 for the 2004-05 academic year; 1 for the 2005-06 academic year; 4 for the 2006-07 academic year
As part of its report, the NCAA Committee on Infractions today announced additional penalties and measures imposed on Syracuse University. Among them:
- Five years of probation from March 6, 2015 through March 5, 2020
- Returning all funds the University 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 and other financial penalties
- Suspension of Coach Jim Boeheim from the first nine conference games of 2015-2016
- Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by three for the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years (Executed scholarship offers for the 2015-16 year are not impacted.)
- Vacation of all wins in which ineligible men’s basketball students played in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-2012 equaling a vacation of 110 wins
The panel accepted the University’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-15 season and other self-imposed penalties.
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 any actions that justify a finding that he was responsible for the rules violations.
Syracuse University does not agree with certain aspects of the NCAA’s ruling and additional penalties. It is currently evaluating its right to challenge those portions of the report and penalties with which it disagrees. Coach Boeheim may choose to appeal the portions of the decision that impact him personally. Should he decide to do so, the University will support him in this step.
To learn more about the NCAA Investigation of Syracuse University, visit http://www.ncaaupdatesyr.com.
The following are statements from Chancellor Kent Syverud, Director of Athletics Daryl Gross, and Chair of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees Richard Thompson:
Chancellor Kent Syverud:
“We believe the NCAA’s investigation of Syracuse University has taken longer than any other investigation in NCAA history. During this time the University and the NCAA devoted massive resources to resolve this case. The University cooperated throughout the process, and the investigation’s length was a product of decisions made separately and together by both parties. Nevertheless, when I became Chancellor last year I concluded that the process had gone on long enough and needed to reach a prompt conclusion. We have worked hard with the NCAA in the last year to complete this matter.
“As Chancellor, I take issues of academic integrity very seriously along with the overall well-being of our student-athletes. We acknowledge significant violations occurred and we regret that. Years ago the University made substantial changes to academic oversight and compliance procedures to ensure mistakes like these don’t happen again. In taking responsibility for our actions, we have also self-imposed a series of significant penalties.
“We do not agree with all the conclusions reached by the NCAA, including some of the findings and penalties included in today’s report. We are considering whether to 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.
“We understand some may not agree with our viewpoint on these important issues. However, we hope everyone will agree that eight years is too long 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.”
Director of Athletics Daryl Gross:
“We have been open and cooperative with the NCAA throughout this lengthy process, taking responsibility for past violations, self-imposing a series of strong penalties and doing the right things to make sure violations don’t happen again. I share the University’s disappointment with aspects of today’s NCAA ruling and I support Chancellor Syverud and the University as it evaluates its right to appeal portions of the report and penalties.”
Syracuse University Board of Trustees Chair Richard L. Thompson:
“This has been a long and exhausting investigation spanning close to eight years. I want to commend Chancellor Syverud and University General Counsel Dan French for ultimately bringing this investigation to conclusion. When Chancellor Syverud joined the University we agreed to immediately create an Athletics Committee of the Board of Trustees to oversee the Athletics Department and receive reports of athletics issues. In addition, the University has taken responsibility for past violations and self-imposed a set of very serious penalties. Most important, we have taken action to reform and strengthen oversight policies and procedures to ensure full compliance. At the same time, we believe a number of the penalties instituted by the NCAA are excessive, and I support the University’s decision to consider its options for appeal.”