PID Breakdown #1 – Academic Misconduct and Impermissible Academic Benefits

Takeaways from a recent Public Infractions Decision posted by the NCAA

Facts:

  • Over course of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years, a director of men’s basketball operations at a DI institution aided ten men’s basketball student-athletes in the completion and submission of online coursework and assignments.
    • Overall, there were four instances of academic misconduct and eight instances of impermissible academic benefits involving these ten men’s basketball student-athletes.
  • Specifically, after an internal institutional investigation triggered after concerns were voiced by student-athlete mentors to these men’s basketball student-athletes, the DOBO was found to have used his institutionally-owned computer to access the online coursework portal of several student-athletes and completed/submitted online coursework on their behalf.
    • The DOBO maintained a log of the user name and passwords for these student-athletes to access their respective online coursework portals.
    • The DOBO accessed these student-athletes’ coursework portals, completed coursework and submitted their assignments without the student-athletes’ knowledge.
      • In one instance, a student-athlete did not know his user name and password to access the online coursework portal yet his portal indicated that he had completed and submitted assignments therein.
  • The institution also determined that there were warning signs in 2010 that the DOBO had become involved in student-athletes’ academic endeavors, as he was found to have helped student-athletes draft emails to faculty and administrators. 

Findings:

  • Four instances of academic misconduct (Level I)
  • Eight instances of impermissible academic extra benefits (Level I)
  • Institutional Failure to Monitor (Level II)

Notable Penalties:

  • One year postseason ban (self-imposed)
  • Three year probationary period
  • Financial penalty ($5,000 + 1% of men’s basketball budget)
  • Loss of scholarships (2 total: 1 per year for two seasons) (self-imposed)
  • Five-year show-cause order against the former DOBO

Important Conclusions and Affirmations:

  • Institutional staff members who complete online coursework for prospective or current student-athletes commit Level I violations (pg. 12 of report).
  • Current and former institutional staff members must not knowingly provide student-athletes with extra benefits.
  • Academic misconduct cases can lead to failure to monitor violations when an institution has reason to pay attention to involved staff members.

Notable Corrective Actions Taken by Institution:

  • Limit student-athletes to one online class per term.
  • Establish an academic oversight group to review student-athlete academic trends and practices (10 faculty members).