Friday, April 27, 2012

South Carolina NCAA Case shows cooperation helps

image Despite being in the repeat violator window (stemming from a case dating to the Lou Holtz tenure), the University of South Carolina escaped severe sanctions by the NCAA for providing tens of thousands of dollars worth of improper benefits to student athletes.

The NCAA released the penalties today. Sanctions include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from April 27, 2012, through April 26, 2015.
  • Reduction of total football scholarships by three (from 85 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
  • Reduction of initial football scholarships by three (from the 25 maximum) during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • $18,500 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • Indefinite disassociation of both involved boosters and the local hotel (self-imposed by the university).
  • Limit of 30 official visits in football (from the 56 maximum) for the 2012-13 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • Limit of 50 official visits in men’s and women’s track and field (from unlimited maximum) for the 2012-13 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • Suspension of the head track coach during the 2012 Penn Relays (self-imposed by the university).
  • An assistant men’s basketball coach was withheld from recruiting in December 2011 (self-imposed by the university).
  • An assistant football coach was withheld from off campus recruiting during January 2012 (self-imposed by the university).

Note that almost all of the final penalties imposed by the league were self-imposed by the school.

In its report, the NCAA praised the school for its degree of cooperation in the case, stating that school “went beyond standard expectations” in cooperating with the Enforcement Staff.

This goes to show that when a school is caught with its hands in the cookie jar, the best course of action is to fess up and show how remorseful you are by singing like a canary. The result is usually a much lighter sentence than what is handed down when a school lawyers up and clamps down. That’s a risky strategy that paid off for Auburn, but left USC West with crippling sanctions and a post-season ban.

A contentious and adversarial investigative process doesn’t end well if when the Enforcement bulldogs find the red meat they’re looking for. Sooner or later, they’re gonna get you. Just like the IRS.

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