The Rule Breakers

NCAA punished more than half of Power Five conference members and more than a quarter of all Division I colleges for major violations in last decade.

January 11, 2016
 
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More than a quarter of all Division I colleges, 43 percent of all universities that play in the high-profile Football Bowl Subdivision and more than half the members of the Power Five conferences committed major violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules in the last decade, an Inside Higher Ed analysis shows.

The NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions issued findings of major violations in 114 cases during the 10-year period from January 2006 through December 2015, according to a review of the association's major infractions database.

Of the 351 colleges and universities in Division I, 96 were found guilty of such infractions. Sixteen institutions (see box at right) were censured more than once, and two -- the University of Oklahoma and West Virginia University -- were punished three times each.

The proportion of violators was significantly higher among the NCAA's most-visible members, those who play in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and even higher among the universities in the highest-octane conferences, known as the Power Five.

The Multiple-Timers' Club

Division I institutions and the number of times punished in last decade:

Ball State U (2)
Coastal Carolina U (2)
Florida A&M U (2)
Georgia Institute of Technology (2)
Northeastern U (2)
Ohio State U (2)
Southeast Missouri State U (2)
Southeastern Louisiana U (2)
Southern Methodist U (2)
Texas Southern U (2)
U of Central Florida (2)
U of New Hampshire (2)
U of Oklahoma (3)
U of Tennessee Knoxville (2)
Weber State U (2)
West Virginia U (3)

The association punished 56 of the current 128 FBS institutions during the 10-year span, including eight of the 10 members of the Big 12 Conference (yes, there are only 10 universities in the Big 12, and 14 in the Big Ten Conference, after the latest conference realignment) and at least half of the members of the American Athletic, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conferences.

The number of institutions found to have committed wrongdoing appears to be holding steady. Previous Inside Higher Ed reviews of NCAA data found that 54 institutions in the FBS (or Division I-A, as it used to be called) were guilty of major violations in the 2000s, and 53 in the 1990s, but the total number of colleges at that competitive level was lower at the time, so the proportions of rule breakers were comparable.

In the 1980s, 57 of the 106 institutions in Division I-A -- well over half -- were punished by the association for rule breaking, according to a survey by this reporter in 1990 (at another higher education publication).

One important note: Pennsylvania State University does not appear on the list because the NCAA's punishment against it -- in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal -- was meted out not by the association's Committee on Infractions but in an unprecedented move by the association's leaders themselves. The penalties were hotly debated by those who said the NCAA was sliding down a slippery slope in punishing members for no direct violations of the association's rules, and they were later softened. (Note: This article has been updated to add this paragraph.)

The nature of the violations and of the penalties imposed by the NCAA in response does seem to be shifting. The association continued to make less use of one of its most serious findings of wrongdoing, lack of institutional control, asserting it in only nine cases against Football Bowl Subdivision institutions from 2006 to 2015, compared to 14 times from 2001-2010 and 31 from 1991-2000. In contrast, the NCAA chose to use the less serious "failure to monitor" more frequently.

There was a slight uptick, however, in the number of institutions whose teams were barred from competition for a least a year, with that serious penalty being imposed in a total of 20 of the 114 cases, including 11 involving FBS universities. From 2001-2010, just six Football Bowl Subdivision programs had teams barred from the playoffs in their sports.

The NCAA also has continued to shy away from the penalty with the most severe financial consequences, a ban on television. No programs faced that sanction in the last decade, while three did from 1991-2000.

But the association did impose fines in 34 cases, significantly more than in the past. There were only three such fines from 2000-2005, and none in the 1990s.

  Year Violations
Alabama State U 2008 Lack of institutional control, academic fraud, financial aid
Alcorn State U 2006 Lack of institutional control, unethical conduct, eligibility
Arizona State U 2010 Violations of recruiting rules
Arkansas State U 2011 Eligibility violations
Ball State U 2007 Lack of institutional control, financial aid
Ball State U 2010 Recruiting violations
Baylor U 2012 Unethical conduct, failure to monitor, recruiting
Boise State U 2011 Failure to monitor, lodging, recruiting, cash
Bradley U 2006 Pay for work not performed
Brigham Young U 2008 Failure to monitor, awarding of extra benefits
California State U-Fresno 2006 Impermissible telephone calls
California State U-Sacramento 2015 Improper recruiting; failure to follow substance policy
California State U-Long Beach 2008 Unethical conduct, improper recruiting
Coastal Carolina U 2008 Unethical conduct, impermissible financial aid
Coastal Carolina U 2015 Improper recruiting
College of the Holy Cross 2009 Impermissible telephone calls
East Carolina U 2011 Academic fraud
Eastern Michigan U 2012 Excessive practice
Eastern Washington U 2009 Lack of institutional control, failure to monitor, use of ineligible players
Florida A&M U 2006 Lack of institutional control, eligibility violations
Florida A&M U 2015 Failure to monitor, eligibility violations
Florida International U 2008 Lack of institutional control, improper financial aid, eligibility violations
Florida State U 2009 Academic fraud
Fordham U 2013 Improper financial aid
Georgetown U 2009 Improper financial aid
Georgia Institute of Technology 2011 Preferential treatment, eligibility violations
Georgia Institute of Technology 2014 Failure to monitor, improper recruiting
Georgia Southern U 2010 Unethical conduct
Howard U 2014 Lack of institutional control, unethical conduct
Indiana U 2008 Impermissible telephone calls
Indiana U/Purdue U-Fort Wayne 2015 Failure to monitor, improper financial aid
Indiana U/Purdue U-Indianapolis 2010 Eligibility violations
Iowa State U 2013 Failure to monitor, improper recruiting calls
Louisiana State U 2011 Impermissible transportation, telephone calls
McNeese State U 2007 Academic fraud, unethical conduct
Middle Tennessee State U 2008 Failure to monitor, eligibility violations
Mississippi State U 2013 Improper recruiting
Morehead State U 2010 Improper recruiting
Northeastern U 2009 Improper recruiting
Northeastern U 2014 Unethical conduct, improper recruiting
Northern Illinois 2006 Extra benefits
Ohio State U 2011 Preferential treatment, unethical conduct, pay for work not performed
Ohio State U 2006 Academic fraud, improper recruiting
Oklahoma State U 2015 Substance abuse policy, improper recruiting
Pepperdine U 2012 Eligibility violations, improper financial aid
Prairie View A&M U 2008 Lack of institutional control, extra benefits
Princeton U 2010 Impermissible educational expenses
Purdue U 2007 Academic fraud, unethical conduct
Radford U 2012 Extra benefits, improper recruiting
Saint Francis U (Pa.) 2014 Unethical conduct, improper recruiting, extra benefits
Samford U 2011 Improper financial aid
Savannah State U 2006 Lack of compliance
Southeast Missouri State U 2008 Improper recruiting
Southeast Missouri State U 2009 Extra benefits
Southeastern Louisiana U 2013 Lack of institutional control, improper recruiting
Southeastern Louisiana U 2015 Unethical conduct, improper recruiting
Southern Methodist U 2011 Impermissible texts
Southern Methodist U 2015 Academic fraud, unethical conduct
St. John's U (N.Y.) 2006 Improper cash payments, other benefits
St. Mary's College of Calif. 2013 Improper recruiting
Syracuse U 2015 Lack of institutional control, failure to monitor
Temple U 2007 Unethical conduct, impermissible financial aid
Texas A&M U-Corpus Christi 2009 Improper financial aid, improper recruiting
Texas Christian U 2008 Impermissible telephone calls
Texas Southern U 2008 Lack of institutional control, unethical conduct, impermissible financial aid
Texas Southern U 2012 Lack of institutional control, impermissible participation
Texas Tech U 2011 Impermissible text messaging
U of Alabama 2009 Impermissible textbooks
U of Albany 2009 Impermissible text messaging
U of Arizona 2010 Improper recruiting
U of Arkansas-Fayetteville 2007 Unethical conduct, improper recruiting
U of Arkansas-Pine Bluff 2014 Failure to monitor, eligibility violations
U of California-Berkeley 2011 Impermissible telephone calls
U of Central Florida 2012 Lack of institutional control, failure to monitor, improper recruiting
U of Central Florida 2010 Impermissible calls, text messaging
U of Cincinnati 2011 Impermissible recruiting calls
U of Colorado-Boulder 2007 Impermissible benefits
U of Connecticut 2011 Failure to monitor, improper recruiting, impermissible text messaging
U of Florida 2015 Improper recruiting
U of Georgia 2014 Failure to promote compliance
U of Iowa 2006 Admissions fraud
U of Kansas 2006 Academic fraud, booster inducements
U of Louisiana-Lafayette 2007 Failure to monitor, eligibility violations
U of Memphis 2009 Unethical conduct,
improper recruiting, extra benefits
U of Miami 2013 Lack of institutional control, improper booster inducements
U of Michigan 2010 Unethical conduct, violations of coaching rules
U of Montana 2013 Extra benefits
U of Nebraska-Lincoln 2012 Improper scholarships
U of Nevada-Reno 2010 Extra benefits
U of New Hampshire 2009 Improper recruiting
U of New Hampshire 2014 Failure to monitor, improper booster inducements
U of New Mexico 2008 Unethical conduct, improper recruiting
U of North Carolina-Chapel Hill 2012 Academic fraud, improper benefits, failure to monitor
U of North Carolina-Greensboro 2015 Failure to monitor, eligibility violations
U of Oklahoma 2006 Impermissible telephone calls
U of Oklahoma 2007 Impermissible benefits
U of Oklahoma 2011 Unethical conduct, eligibility violations
U of Oregon 2013 Improper recruiting
U of Richmond 2009 Failure to monitor, impermissible telephone calls and texts
U of San Francisco 2010 Failure to monitor, improper financial aid, improper benefits
U of South Alabama 2009 Improper financial aid
U of South Carolina-Columbia 2012 Impermissible benefits, improper recruiting
U of Southern California 2010 Unethical conduct, failure to report, improper benefits
U of Southern Mississippi 2013 Failure to monitor, unethical conduct
U of Tennessee-Chattanooga 2010 Failure to monitor, improper recruiting
U of Tennessee-Knoxville 2011 Unethical conduct, failure to monitor, improper recruiting
U of Tennessee-Knoxville 2012 Eligibility violations, improper booster inducements
U of Texas-Rio Grande Valley 2010 Impermissible calls
Weber State U 2006 Improper financial aid, benefits
Weber State U 2014 Academic fraud
West Virginia U 2007 Unethical conduct, recruiting violations
West Virginia U 2011 Violation of coaching rules
West Virginia U 2015 Impermissible texts and telephone calls
Wichita State U 2015 Failure to monitor, improper benefits

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