SMU Men's Basketball Program Slapped With Two Years Probation For Text Messages

SMU Men's Basketball Program Slapped With Two Years Probation For Text Messages
SMU

Sure, it's not the death penalty, but the NCAA just released a statement saying it has accepted self-imposed sanctions by Southern Methodist University on its basketball program. SMU's recommendations included two years probation (March 10, 2011, through March 9, 2013), a reduction of 15 recruiting days and a two-week ban on initiating communication with prospective basketball student-athletes that began on April 28 and concluded on May 11, 2010.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions determined that SMU "committed major violations" related to "impermissible text messages" sent by members of the men's basketball staff to parents of at least seven prospective student-athletes.

The entire release is after the jump.

Division I Committee on Infractions Issues Decision on Southern Methodist University

INDIANAPOLIS---The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has found that Southern Methodist University committed major violations in its men's basketball program. The violations in the case were limited to impermissible text messages sent by members of the men's basketball staff to parents of at least seven prospective student-athletes. Penalties in this case include two years probation and recruiting restrictions.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. When the NCAA enforcement staff, the university and involved individuals agree to the facts of the case and the university proposes penalties, they may use this process instead of having a formal hearing.

The men's basketball staff sent an estimated 100 text messages to prospects' parents after receiving erroneous advice from the former director of compliance, who advised that the staff could send text messages to parents, but not prospects. NCAA rules do not allow text messages to be sent to prospective student-athletes or their parents. As soon as the head men's basketball coach realized this advice was in error, he immediately reported the violations and corrected his staff's actions.

There was also an associated violation due to the university's failure to implement self-imposed rules education after reporting four secondary violations in 2007 and 2008, which also related to impermissible text messaging.

In distinguishing this case from other previous text messaging cases, the committee noted the men's basketball staff sought guidance on rules rather than knowingly circumventing them. Further, the committee noted that there is no evidence that more than a minimal recruiting advantage was gained by these inadvertent violations. The committee also concluded the erroneous guidance from the former director of compliance strongly mitigated the staff's responsibility for the violations. Finally, the committee noted the head coach kept up to date on rules education, which led him to discover the recruiting violations. The committee commended the head coach for his actions in this case.

In light of these factors, the committee accepted the university's self-imposed penalties and did not impose any further restrictions aside from public reprimand and censure. The penalties in this case, all of which were self-imposed by the university, include:

* Public reprimand and censure.
* Two years of probation from March 10, 2011, through March 9, 2013.
* Two-week ban on initiating communication with basketball prospective student-athletes beginning April 28 and concluding May 11, 2010.
* For the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years, the number of recruiting in-person days available to the men's basketball staff will be reduced by 15. As a result, the total number of days will not exceed 115.
* For the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years, the number of official paid visits available to the men's basketball staff will be reduced by two. As a result, the total number of official visits will not exceed 10.
* All coaches of all sports at the university were required to attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar.

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and chair of the Committee on Infractions. Other members are Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., attorney; John Black, attorney; Greg Sankey, associate commissioner of compliance for the Southeastern Conference; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; Melissa Conboy, deputy director of athletics at University of Notre Dame; and James O'Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative for University of Oregon.


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