Thursday, November 19, 2015

FAMU athletic director announces sanctions for NCAA violations

Earlier this week, FAMU Athletic Director Milton Overton announced self-imposed penalties and other sanctions due to the identification of violations of secondary NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) rules during previous academic years.

After an internal investigation by the University and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), and a joint investigation by FAMU and the NCAA, FAMU self-reported findings of violations to the NCAA Infraction Committee regarding the Athletics Department’s failure, in previous years, to properly administer general student-athlete eligibility and playing season requirements between the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 academic years, in addition to financial aid requirements during the summer of 2013.

These specific violations include (1) student-athletes not completing drug testing forms, (2) student-athletes failing to complete a medical examination within the required time frame, (3) the Department of Athletics failing to provide a number of student athletes with the proper written notification before the reduction of their athletic aid, and (4) the Department failing to monitor appropriately the administration of eligibility and playing season requirements.

FAMU self-imposed a three-year probation and annual compliance reporting to the NCAA on its athletics program. While the NCAA has not made its official announcement on the findings, a final disposition is expected to include an additional one-year probation based on the fact that these specific violations were determined to be systemic and recurring in that they were identified in the 2006 NCAA report.

FAMU is required to pay a one-time fine estimated at $153,255. These monies will be retained by FAMU and reinvested into the cost of external compliance reviews. The fine will be assessed to ensure that adequate financial resources are devoted to improving the University's compliance program.

FAMU did not suffer any loss of scholarships, coaches being suspended, or any further ban on post-season play as a result of these Level II violations.

In announcing the sanctions, Overton said, “FAMU embraces these penalties since they are aligned with the steps the University is already taking to enhance its reporting and monitoring processes. The University believes that the additional one-year probationary period is necessary to help ensure that corrective actions are taken to make transformational changes needed to reinforce the University's commitment to ‘Building Champions in the Classroom, on the Field, and in Life.’”

The University has developed a Corrective Action Plan to address the compliance and reporting issues. It is updating the current Athletics Policies and Procedures Manual to ensure that administrative procedures both within and outside the Athletics Department are in effect and operational. The Athletics Department Compliance Office will conduct a timely review of track and cross country competition results to ensure that students who participate “unattached” in events do so consistent with NCAA rules. The Athletics Department central office will establish procedures to execute tracers for transfer student-athletes to authenticate academic and athletic participation information received directly from a transfer student-athlete or his/her prior institution. The Department will also invest in software to assist with tracking student-athlete reports and activities.

The fine will be used by the Athletics Department to enhance compliance and prevent the recurrence of these issues as follows:

• Contract with an external third-party group to conduct a thorough compliance review in the spring of 2016

• Contract with an external third-party group to conduct a thorough evaluation of training/medical program and procedures

• Add a second full-time compliance official for the 2015-16 year and a third full-time compliance person for the 2016-17 year

• Provide athletics training department employees with NCAA rules education specific to their respective units on an annual basis

“The rapport and transparency we are rebuilding with the NCAA has allowed us to reinvest the fine into improving our operations. Full-compliance with NCAA rules is an integral part of our laser-like focus on moving FAMU Athletics into a best-in-class program,” Overton said. “Athletics compliance and academic support programming are foundational components to improving our department infrastructure, so this investment helps us in our efforts to build champions.”

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