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SoCalHoops College News

USC Hit With Sanctions; No
BBall Violations Though--(Aug. 23, 2001)

For those who predicted that USC was going to be hit with sanctions by the NCAA today as a result of allegations of recruiting violations within the men's basketball department, you were only half right:   USC was hit with NCAA sanctions, but not as a result of anything the basketball coaches did or didn't do.

The NCAA today announced in a press release that the University of Southern California has been placed on probation.  While the NCAA had been investigating recruiting violations in the men's basketball program, the NCAA Committee on Infractions agreed that no violations were committed.

The school will have reduced scholarships in both football and women's swimming and diving as a result of findings by the NCAA that academic fraud was committed, that the institution provided false and misleading information, and a lack of institutional monitoring.

The official press release from the NCAA can be found at the highlighted link and is also reproduced below in full.  The basketball allegations are only mentioned in passing in the press release. Thus, USC men's basketball will incur no penalties or sanctions as a result of the investigations which took place over the past several years.

Here's the official press release from the NCAA:

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA PLACED ON PROBATION,
FINANCIAL AID AWARDS REDUCED

INDIANAPOLIS---The University of Southern California will begin two years of probation today and will have scholarships in football and women's swimming and diving reduced as the result of findings by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. The findings are academic fraud, providing false and misleading information, and a lack of institutional monitoring. 

There were also allegations of significant recruiting violations in the men's basketball program involving an assistant coach, but the committee agreed with the university's findings that no violations were committed. 

The academic fraud violations included three separate instances over a two-year period from the summer of 1996 to the spring of 1998. During that period of time, employees of the university's Student Athlete Academic Services (SAAS) substantially composed academic papers for three student-athletes. In addition, the tutors involved in the fraud misrepresented their role in preparing the papers. 

In all three instances - one in the summer of 1996, one in the fall of 1997 and one in the spring of 1998 - a tutor was asked by an assistant coach or a student-athlete to assist in preparing a paper for specific class assignments. The tutors worked with the student-athletes a number of hours, helped them conduct research, and typed and composed significant portions of the papers. The student-athletes submitted the papers as their own work for academic credit. 

The student-athlete involved in the summer 1996 violation was a football player who was assisted by a tutor coordinator for a paper in a political science class. After the paper was submitted, the football student-athlete received an A- for the course. 

In the case of the 1997 violation, a women's diving student-athlete presented a rough draft of a paper for a writing class in the handwriting of a tutor and submitted the final paper in her own handwriting. The course professor detected the fraud and awarded an F to the student-athlete for the course. 

Another football student-athlete was involved in the 1998 instance, involving a paper for a religion course. The student-athlete submitted the fraudulent paper and was awarded a C in the class. 

In all three cases, the tutor coordinator or tutors provided false and misleading information to the university or was unwilling to be interviewed. The committee also found that the institution failed to properly monitor the administration of the institution's SAAS program. 

Specifically, the committee found that the institution failed to: 

Follow its own institutional policy and procedures regarding the provision of academic tutorial assistance to student-athletes. 

Ensure that all SAAS tutors received appropriate orientation and training before tutoring student-athletes. 

Adequately monitor and provide sufficient oversight to ensure compliance with SAAS and NCAA rules. Ensure that tutors were properly qualified to assume such positions. 

Although the institution argued that the three separate and isolated cases would not have been automatically detected by routine monitoring, the committee noted that it was troubled that three different tutors over a three-year period engaged in clear violations of institutional academic fraud guidelines. 

The Committee on Infractions considered the following corrective actions taken by the university relative to its athletics program: 

In September 1997, the tutor coordinator was placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of an internal investigation into unrelated allegations of inappropriate behavior in his position as Learning Support Coordinator for SAAS. On April 23, 1998, the university terminated his employment based in part on the finding that his personal behavior in the workplace was inappropriate and in part on the university's discovery that he had been involved in the academic fraud and unethical conduct violations. 

In December 1997, the tutor involved with the women's diving student-athlete was terminated based on his involvement in the fraud. 

The university restructured and reinforced its training program for SAAS tutors, including coordinating training with the Southern California Learning Center, special presentations by the Office of Student Conduct, the Writing Program and the director of compliance. 

All tutors are required to sign a code of ethics signifying that they understand their responsibilities and the academic integrity guidelines for their conduct. 

The student-athlete handbook was revised to include a section on academic integrity. 

The tutor guidelines were revised to include additional information reinforcing academic integrity training. 

In hiring tutors, SAAS established a goal to employ graduate students who have been enrolled at the university for at least one academic semester and who have at least a 3.500 grade point average (GPA) in the subject area and a 3.000 overall GPA. However, if tutors who meet the stated policy criteria are not available, SAAS will contact the appropriate course professor and seek recommendations on tutors. In some instances, this may result in the hiring of undergraduate students recommended by the course instructor. 

The committee agreed with and approved of the actions taken by the university, but it imposed additional penalties because of the serious nature of the violations in the case, including academic fraud and a failure to monitor. The additional penalties are: 

The institution shall receive public reprimand and censure.   

The institution shall be placed on two years of probation beginning August 23, 2001. 

The number of total athletically related financial aid awards in the sport of football shall be reduced by two during the 2002-03 academic year, which limits the institution to 83 total grants-in-aid for that year under current legislation. 

The number of athletically related financial aid equivalencies in the sport of women's swimming and diving shall be reduced by 0.5 during the 2002-03 academic year. 

Pursuant to Bylaw 19.6.2.7, the NCAA president shall forward a copy of this report to the appropriate regional accrediting agency. 

The former tutor coordinator will be informed in writing by the NCAA that, due to his involvement in certain violations of NCAA legislation found in this case, if he seeks employment or affiliation in an athletically related position at an NCAA member institution during a two-year period (until August 22, 2003), he and any involved institution shall be requested to appear before the Committee on Infractions to consider whether the member institution should be subject to the show-cause procedures, which could limit his athletically related duties at any such institution for a designated period. 

During this period of probation, the institution: 

Shall develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation, including seminars and testing, to instruct the coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all university staff members with responsibility for the certification of student-athletes for admission, retention, financial aid or competition. 

Submit a preliminary report to the director of the NCAA infractions committees by October 15, 2001, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program. 

File with the committee's director annual compliance reports indicating the progress made with this program by June 15 of each year during the probationary period. 

At the conclusion of the probationary period, the university's president shall provide a letter to the committee affirming that the university's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations. 

As required by NCAA legislation for any institution involved in a major infractions case, Southern California is subject to the NCAA's repeat-violator provisions for a five-year period beginning on the effective date of the penalties in this case, August 23, 2001. 

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who heard this case are: Jack Friedenthal, committee chair and professor of law, George Washington University; Gene A.Marsh, professor of law, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Andrea Myers, director of athletics at Indiana State University; James Park Jr., attorney and retired judge, Frost Brown Todd LLC, Lexington, Kentucky; Josephine Potuto, professor of law, University of Nebraska, Lincoln; and Thomas E. Yeager, commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association. 

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