03.06.2015

Syracuse University Responds to NCAA Committee on Infractions Report

Contact: Kevin Quinn | 315-443-3784 | sunews@syr.edu | news.syr.edu

Syracuse University received the Division I Committee on Infractions report earlier today, concluding a nearly eight-year investigation.

The University initially self-reported potential violations to the NCAA in May 2007, and submitted its written self-report in October 2010—after conducting an internal investigation for three years and five months. The NCAA conducted its own review and issued a Notice of Allegations essentially confirming the self-report in 2011. While the University was in the process of responding to the Notice of Allegations, a subsequent violation occurred prompting a joint investigation beginning in February 2012. That investigation lasted more than 24 months and concluded with an amended Notice of Allegations in May 2014. The University responded to the Notice of Allegations in August 2014 and appeared at a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in October 2014.
The University believes the NCAA’s investigation of Syracuse has taken longer than any other investigation in NCAA history—close to eight years and involving a review of conduct dating back to 2001. The University and the NCAA devoted massive resources to the process. Hundreds of thousands of documents were reviewed, hundreds of interviews were conducted, and thousands of hours of human capital were expended.

Syracuse University does not agree with all the conclusions reached by the NCAA, including some of the findings and penalties included in today’s report. However, the University takes seriously issues of academic integrity and the overall well-being of student-athletes. The University regrets, and does not dispute, that the following significant violations cited by the NCAA occurred:

Regional YMCA
The University discovered that in 2004-2005, two men’s basketball and three football student-athletes received a combined total of $8,335, provided by a part-time Rome, New York, YMCA employee who qualified under NCAA rules as a University athletics “booster.” These monies were purportedly for work done at the YMCA, such as refereeing youth basketball games. Regardless, these monies were prohibited “extra benefits” under NCAA rules, and although these payments were isolated to one individual booster, they never should have occurred. In addition, three of these student-athletes received academic credit in the same course for internships at the YMCA they failed to complete. The University subsequently rescinded the credit.

Drug Education and Deterrence Program
The University’s voluntarily-adopted Drug Education and Deterrence Program has been in place for many years, distinguishing the University from those that elect to have no drug testing or rehabilitation program for their student-athletes. Although the NCAA does not require schools to have a testing program, if one is adopted, the university must follow its terms. The University reported to the NCAA that from 2001 to early 2009 it at times failed to follow the written terms of the program with respect to student-athletes who tested positive for use of marijuana. Although these failures largely were the result of an unnecessarily complicated testing policy and did not involve performance-enhancing drugs, they constitute an NCAA violation, which the University accepts.

Academic Integrity Matters
The University reported that in January 2012, a men’s basketball student-athlete committed academic misconduct. The misconduct occurred when the student-athlete submitted a paper in a course he already passed in an effort to improve his course grade and restore NCAA eligibility. Per University policy, the ability to improve a previous grade is open to all students. The paper was prepared with assistance from two (now former) athletics employees, both of whom were aware their actions were improper and wrong. Their actions, done in secret, went against clear instructions that the student-athlete needed to complete the assignment on his own, and constituted a clear violation of the University’s academic integrity policy and NCAA rules. The University has acknowledged the now-former staff members’ wrongful conduct and accepts responsibility for their actions. While reviewing this matter, the University found information suggesting these same two individuals, and one tutor, may have assisted three other student-athletes with some academic assignments. Detailed information was submitted through the University’s faculty-led academic integrity process. In each case, faculty failed to find evidence supporting a violation. NCAA bylaws dictate that it must accept an institution’s academic integrity determinations. Notwithstanding, the NCAA determined the same conduct constituted an “extra benefit” to these student-athletes. The University disagrees with the NCAA’s position.

Since first self-reporting to the NCAA, the University has implemented a series of best practices, strengthened existing policies and procedures, and reformed a range of student-athlete support services to ensure these mistakes never happen again. These proactive steps include:

  • Fundamentally restructuring the entire student-athlete academic support office, that now reports solely to Academic Affairs, in lieu of jointly to the Athletics Department
  • Creating a new Assistant Provost for Student-Athlete Development and more than doubling the number of full-time academic support staff for our student-athletes
  • Redesigning the University’s voluntary Drug Education and Deterrence Program for student-athletes, consistent with best practices and peer institutions
  • Establishing an Athletics Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees, that oversees the athletics department and receives reports of athletics issues, including compliance matters
  • Creating an Athletics Compliance Oversight Committee that includes the University’s Faculty Athletics Representative, and a representative from Academic Affairs. This committee reviews the status of athletic compliance initiatives and monitors compliance
  • Assigning oversight of the Office of Athletics Compliance to the University General Counsel
  • Implementing new and wide-ranging enhanced compliance training programs for all student-athletes and coaches focused on NCAA, ACC and University rules and policies
  • Taking action to separate employment with two former athletics staff members found to have been involved in academic misconduct; and
  • Disassociating non-SU affiliated persons responsible for, or involved in, violations.

In addition to implementing important changes to enhance academic support services and overall compliance, the University already self-imposed a series of significant penalties, including:

  • A one-year ban from 2014-15 post-season competition for men’s basketball
  • A voluntary, two-year period of probation for the Department of Athletics
  • Eliminating one scholarship for men’s basketball for the 2015-2016 season
  • Eliminating one off-campus recruiter for men’s basketball for six months during the 2015-2016 academic year
  • Vacating 24 men’s basketball wins: 15 for the 2004-05 academic year; 9 for the 2011-12 academic year; and
  • Vacating 11 football wins: 6 for the 2004-05 academic year; 1 for the 2005-06 academic year; 4 for the 2006-07 academic year.

As part of its report, the NCAA Committee on Infractions today announced additional penalties and measures imposed on Syracuse University. Among them:

  • Five years of probation from March 6, 2015 through March 5, 2020
  • Returning all funds the University has received to date through the former Big East Conference revenue sharing for its appearances in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and other financial penalties
  • Suspension of Coach Jim Boeheim from the first nine conference games of 2015-2016
  • Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by three for the 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years. Executed scholarship offers for the 2015-16 year are not impacted
  • Vacation of all wins in which ineligible men’s basketball students played in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-2012 equaling a number to be determined.

The panel accepted the University’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-15 season and other self-imposed penalties.

Although the University recognizes the seriousness of the violations it has acknowledged, it respectfully disagrees with certain findings of the Committee. Specifically, the University strongly disagrees that it failed to maintain institutional control over its athletics programs, or that Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jim Boeheim has taken any actions that justify a finding that he was responsible for the rules violations.

Syracuse University does not agree with certain aspects of the NCAA’s ruling and additional penalties. It is currently evaluating its right to challenge those portions of the report and penalties with which it disagrees. Coach Boeheim may choose to appeal the portions of the decision that impact him personally. Should he decide to do so, the University will support him in this step.

To learn more about the NCAA Investigation of Syracuse University, visit http://www.ncaaupdatesyr.com.

The following are statements from Chancellor Kent Syverud, Chair of the Syracuse University Board of Trustees Richard Thompson, and Director of Athletics Daryl Gross:

Chancellor Kent Syverud:

“We believe the NCAA’s investigation of Syracuse University has taken longer than any other investigation in NCAA history. During this time, the University and the NCAA devoted massive resources to resolve this case. The University cooperated throughout the process, and the investigation’s length was a product of decisions made separately and together by both parties. Nevertheless, when I became Chancellor last year I concluded that the process had gone on long enough and needed to reach a prompt conclusion. We have worked hard with the NCAA in the last year to complete this matter.”

“As Chancellor, I take issues of academic integrity very seriously along with the overall well-being of our student-athletes. We acknowledge significant violations occurred and we regret that. Years ago the University made substantial changes to academic oversight and compliance procedures to ensure mistakes like these don’t happen again. In taking responsibility for our actions, we have also self-imposed a series of significant penalties.”

“We do not agree with all the conclusions reached by the NCAA, including some of the findings and penalties included in today’s report. We are considering whether to appeal certain portions of the decision. Coach Boeheim may choose to appeal the portions of the decision that impact him personally. Should he decide to do so, we would support him in this step.”

“We understand some may not agree with our viewpoint on these important issues. However, we hope everyone will agree that eight years is too long and that a more expeditious and less costly process would be beneficial to student-athletes, public confidence in the NCAA enforcement process, and major intercollegiate athletics in general.”

Syracuse University Board of Trustees Chair Richard L. Thompson:

“This has been a long and exhausting investigation spanning close to eight years. I want to commend Chancellor Syverud and University General Counsel Dan French for ultimately bringing this investigation to conclusion. When Chancellor Syverud joined the University we agreed to immediately create an Athletics Committee of the Board of Trustees to oversee the Athletics Department and receive reports of athletics issues. In addition, the University has taken responsibility for past violations and self-imposed a set of very serious penalties. Most important, we have taken action to reform and strengthen oversight policies and procedures to ensure full compliance. At the same time, we believe a number of the penalties instituted by the NCAA are excessive, and I support the University’s decision to consider its options for appeal.”

Director of Athletics Daryl Gross:
“We have been open and cooperative with the NCAA throughout this lengthy process, taking responsibility for past violations, self-imposing a series of strong penalties and doing the right things to make sure violations don’t happen again. I share the University’s disappointment with aspects of today’s NCAA ruling and I support Chancellor Syverud and the University as it evaluates its right to appeal portions of the report and penalties.”

Fact Sheet on Corrective Measures and Self-Imposed Penalties

Corrective Measures
Since reporting potential violations to the NCAA in 2007, Syracuse University has implemented a series of corrective measures to its policies and procedures, including:

  • Fundamentally restructuring the entire student-athlete academic support office, which now reports solely to Academic Affairs, in lieu of jointly with the Athletics Department;
  • Creating a new Assistant Provost for Student-Athlete Development position and more than doubling the number of full-time academic support staff for our student-athletes;
  • Completely revamping the University’s voluntarily-adopted Drug Education and Deterrence Program in line with best practices and peer institutions’ programs;
  • Establishing a new Athletics Committee of the University’s Board of Trustees that receives reports of athletics issues, including compliance matters;
  • Creating an Athletics Compliance Oversight Committee that includes the University’s Faculty Athletics Representative and a representative from Academic Affairs. This committee reviews the status of athletic compliance initiatives and monitors compliance matters;
  • Assigning oversight of the Office of Athletics Compliance to the Office of the University General Counsel; and
  • Implementing new and enhanced compliance training programs for student-athletes and coaches focused on NCAA, ACC and University rules and policies.

Self-Imposed Penalties
Syracuse University acknowledges that violations have occurred and takes responsibility for its conduct. As a result, the University self-imposed a series of significant penalties which include:

  • A one-year ban from 2014-15 post-season competition for men’s basketball;
  • Imposing a voluntary, two-year period of probation for the Athletics Department;
  • Vacating 24 men’s basketball wins: 15 for the 2004-05 academic year; 9 for the 2011-12 academic year;
  • Vacating 11 football wins: 6 for the 2004-05 academic year; 1 for the 2005-06 academic year; 4 for the 2006-07 academic year;
  • Eliminating one scholarship for men’s basketball for the 2015-2016 season; and
  • Eliminating one off-campus recruiter for men’s basketball for six months during the 2015-2016 academic year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How were the rules violations discovered?

The University notified the NCAA of potential violations in 2007 and submitted a written self-report to the NCAA in 2010.

When did the violations occur?

Some of the violations discovered by the University and the resulting NCAA investigation involved conduct that occurred as far back as 2001, and none of which occurred after 2012.

Why did the process take so long?

Syracuse University initially reported potential violations to the NCAA in 2007. Since that time, the University worked cooperatively with the NCAA enforcement staff to interview witnesses and to collect information. The investigation’s length was a product of decisions made separately and together.

Besides basketball, what other sports were investigated?

Student athlete support services for all Syracuse University intercollegiate athletic programs were reviewed through this process.

How many sports were found to have violated NCAA rules?

The NCAA investigation focused on issues involving the men’s basketball and football programs. Issues in the football program occurred prior to 2007, and issues in the basketball program occurred prior to 2012.

Were any current student athletes involved in rules violations?

The rules violations discovered through this investigation do not involve any current student athletes.

How did you determine the self-imposed penalties?

We reviewed previous cases involving other institutions with similar allegations. We believe that the self-imposed penalties of vacating wins, scholarship reductions and recruiting limitations are commensurate with the allegations in our case.

How confident are you that with the release of the news today that no further allegations involving improprieties will come to light?

The vast majority of violations occurred more than eight years ago, and the University has since restructured the oversight of compliance and the academic support of student athletes. During the many years these reforms have been in place, we have seen no similar conduct. More importantly, in recent years our student-athletes have raised bar on academic achievement, demonstrating the success of our efforts.
What changes has the University implemented in its governance of student athletes as a result of this investigation?

Since first self-reporting to the NCAA, the University has implemented a series of best practices, reformed and strengthened existing policies and procedures, realigned and improved a range of student-athlete support services, and took other supportive actions. This includes creating a new Assistant Provost for Student Athlete Development and assigning oversight of the Office of Athletic Compliance to the Office of University General Counsel.

Why did you announce the self-imposed post-season ban prior to the ruling?

Of all the self-imposed penalties, this was the most time-sensitive. After consultation with the NCAA and the ACC, we decided it was best impose the one-season post-season ban as soon as the process allowed, which was on February 4. As part of an agreement with the NCAA, the remaining self-imposed violations were to be released by the NCAA when it issued its final report.

02.04.2015

Syracuse University Announces Self-Imposed Post-Season Ban

Syracuse University today announced that it previously notified the NCAA that it has instituted a self-imposed post-season ban for the men’s basketball 2014-15 season as part of its case pending before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

The University initiated the case when it self-reported potential violations within the Athletics Department to the NCAA in 2007. Much of the conduct involved in the case occurred long ago and none occurred after 2012. No current student-athlete is involved. In addition, beginning in 2007, the University took a series of actions to reform and strengthen existing policies and procedures, implement a series of best practices, and realign and improve a range of student-athlete support services.

The University appeared before the NCAA Committee on Infractions in October 2014 and has continued to cooperatively engage with the Committee. As a further means of acknowledging past mistakes, the University notified the NCAA that it will be voluntarily withholding the men’s basketball team from post-season competition following the current 2014-15 season. This one-year ban includes the ACC Tournament and any additional post-season tournaments such as the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and the National Invitational Tournament (NIT). This action is accompanied by other self-imposed penalties the University also instituted and which the NCAA Committee on Infractions will make public when it issues its final report.

Chancellor Kent Syverud said, “Syracuse’s history demonstrates a strong commitment to integrity, responsibility and fairness—values I have personally observed in practice many times since becoming Chancellor last year. The University has taken this matter seriously and worked with the NCAA for nearly eight years to investigate and address potential rules violations. The process has been exhaustive. We have taken responsibility for past violations and worked hard to ensure they are not repeated. I am disappointed for our current men’s basketball players who must shoulder this post-season ban. I also recognize that not participating in post-season play will be disappointing for many in the University community and to all Orange supporters. However, we look forward to moving past this matter and I am confident the men’s basketball program will be strong and successful both on the court and in the classroom in the years ahead.”

Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross said, “This has been a long process and while this is a tough decision it is in the best interest of the Athletics Department and the University. My greatest disappointment is for the players who will be affected by this outcome even though they were not involved. I am also mindful of the passionate and loyal members of Orange Nation who look forward to post-season play. In the end, I am confident our program will continue to compete at the highest national level and remain strong.”

Men’s Head Basketball Coach Jim Boeheim said, “I am very disappointed that our basketball team will miss the opportunity to play in the post-season this year. Senior Rakeem Christmas has been an outstanding member of the team for the past four years. However, I supported this decision and I believe the University is doing the right thing by acknowledging that past mistakes occurred. Our players have faced adversity and challenges before. I know they will rise to this challenge by keeping our program strong and continuing to make our University proud.”

Newly-appointed Faculty Athletics Representative and Falk Distinguished Professor of Sport Management Rick Burton said, “Every Division I program faces challenges and while this is a tough decision for the University and its students, faculty, staff and fans, it helps to close this particular chapter and allows us to focus on the future.”

As the NCAA case has not yet concluded, per NCAA bylaws the University is unable to provide additional details or comment further at this time.

10.31.2014

Official University Statement Regarding NCAA Committee on Infractions Hearing

Earlier today, Syracuse University concluded a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. The hearing completes a cooperative process stemming from the University’s self-report of potential NCAA violations.

None of the potential violations involve current-student athletes. The issues regarding men’s basketball and football occurred years ago, with the exception of certain issues in basketball occurring between 2010 and early 2012. Since first self-reporting to the NCAA in 2007, the University, in partnership with the Department of Athletics, has implemented a series of best practices, reformed and strengthened existing policies and procedures, and realigned and improved a range of student-athlete support services.

The University is fully committed to ensuring compliance with all NCAA regulations and maintaining the highest standards of integrity and responsibility. With this significant step in the process complete, we look forward to reviewing the Committee’s findings and resolving this matter.