Stony Brook's Self-Imposed Penalties Accepted By NCAA
April 21, 2005
Stony Brook, N.Y. - The NCAA announced today that a number of unintentional, secondary violations related to eligibility occurred within the Stony Brook University athletics program during 1999-00 and 2000-01, its first two years as a Division I program. The university self-reported these violations to the NCAA, whose enforcement staff stated, that "There was no evidence that the violations were intentional" and that many of the improperly certified student-athletes were ineligible due to "paper" violations.
The errors which occurred were generally administrative in nature and errors of omission. They were not indicative of any attempt to gain an unfair competitive advantage or to intentionally violate any NCAA rules for personal or competitive gain. They included simple failure to designate a degree program by the proper deadline, failure to complete the required number of degree credits prior to competition in a particular year, and failure to meet acceptable progress-toward-degree percentages.
In a large number of these cases, the student-athletes who were in violation actually completed their degrees on time and were successful in terms of grade point averages earned. Nevertheless, Stony Brook reported these violations, which were attributed to administrative failures by the personnel in place at that time. The violations documented in the report occurred in 10 sports during that first two-year period at the Division I level.
The Stony Brook Athletics Department was officially reclassified to Division I status six years ago, commencing with the 1999-00 academic year. Following the completion of the first season in Division I, during the spring of 2000, President Shirley Strum Kenny directed the institution's internal audit staff to perform a routine and voluntary review of certification of eligibility records. Although there were no immediate indications of improper or inaccurate certifications, President Kenny also commenced an evaluation of the processes which Stony Brook had implemented to insure compliance with the requirements of competing at the Division I level.
Several secondary violations were identified and reported in June 2000 and prompted immediate corrective action by the institution. During the process of restructuring the Athletics Compliance Office during the next year, the President convened a team to completely review the eligibility records of all Stony Brook student-athletes during those first two years competing at the Division I level.
The report concluded that there were a number of unintentional, secondary violations of NCAA bylaws concerning student-athlete eligibility certification that took place almost exclusively during the first three academic semesters as a Division I member. The university self-reported these violations in a document that was submitted to the NCAA in September 2002. In response to the findings, the university immediately took corrective action to ensure full compliance and monitoring of NCAA satisfactory-progress regulations, including the restructuring of the compliance office, hiring of additional staff and the creation of a new certification process.
This process now involves a certification team, which includes representatives from the office of compliance, academic support services, the registrar's office and the Faculty Athletics Representative and an Associate Director of Athletics. Prior to any practice or competition, each head coach receives a team roster including each student-athlete's eligibility status. These processes are constantly evaluated and adjusted by an eight person compliance team which includes members of the athletics department as well as representatives from the offices of admissions, financial aid and registrar. The athletics department also restructured and added additional staff members to the office of compliance.
"While these violations were of an administrative nature, they were not consistent with either the NCAA directives or our commitment to have an athletics program that operates within both the spirit and the letter of the regulations," President Kenny said. "The manner in which the infractions process was handled, managed, and completed reflects the integrity of the program's leadership. The strength of the current athletics administration, which has been in place for the past 18 months, has created an infrastructure of experienced personnel, detailed policies and refined processes to ensure that what happened six years ago, while unintentional, won't happen again."
Along with the findings listed in its report, the university was also responsible for concluding whether the violations should be considered secondary or major. It is important to note that when taken individually, each violation would likely have been deemed secondary. However, the university concluded, and the NCAA agreed, that when taken as a whole, the situation represented a major violation of NCAA rules. As a result, the university imposed penalties to reflect that determination. The NCAA also agreed with the finding in Stony Brook's report that found that the university was in violation of the NCAA's principle of institutional control.
"The errors that occurred were errors of omission," said Jim Fiore, Stony Brook University Director of Athletics. "The mistakes made speak to a failed process that was in place during Stony Brook's infancy as a Division I program while transitioning from Division III to Division I. As we completed this process during the past 18 months, it was clearly evident that there was no intent or effort to gain competitive advantage on the part of any current or former Stony Brook University employees or representatives. Following its review, the NCAA agreed with this conclusion. The necessary steps to improve our staff, processes and mechanisms are already in place. "
The NCAA agreed with the findings in the report as submitted by Stony Brook and accepted the self-imposed penalties which the institution offered. The penalties resulting from the violations in the report are as follows:
The university is placed on probation for a period of three years that will expire on April 20, 2008 and will require the institution to prepare an annual report to be submitted to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the Committee on Infractions.
During the current 2004-05 academic year, the institution's chief executive officer will contact the NCAA membership services staff to formally request a compliance review. The results of the review will be included in the institution's annual compliance report.
During the proposed probationary period (ending April 20, 2008), all primary members of the institution's Compliance Team responsible for certifying student-athletes' eligibility (including a member of the registrar's office, financial aid office, athletics department compliance staff, associate director of athletics/senior woman administrator and member(s) of the academic advising staff) will be required to attend the annual NCAA Regional Compliance Seminar.
A reduction of a total of 12.5 scholarships in 10 sports will be taken during the next two academic years (2005-06 and 2006-07). A sport-by-sport breakdown: