ATU Pursues Legal Recourse in NCAA Case

The Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees has filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County (Ark.) seeking declaratory judgment and injunctive relief from a penalty levied by the National Collegiate Athletic Association against the institution.

The suit seeks to restore a combined 205 men’s and women’s basketball victories earned by Arkansas Tech from 2009-13 that were vacated following an NCAA ruling on June 4, 2015.

“Arkansas Tech University looks forward to an independent review of the facts in this case,” said Steve Mullins, ATU director of athletics.

Arkansas Tech self-reported NCAA violations concerning waivers of on-campus apartment security deposits for student-athletes in 2013. Further investigation found that the university had improperly reserved on-campus apartment rooms for student-athletes.

The practice of waiving security deposits for student-athletes has since been made allowable under NCAA rules following a vote by NCAA Division II member institutions at the 2017 NCAA Convention.

As a result of the investigation and subsequent finding of violations, Arkansas Tech instituted the following corrective actions:

*completed an NCAA compliance systems review through the NCAA Blueprint Compliance Review Program during the 2014-15 academic year;

*increased the level of NCAA compliance education provided to members of the residence life, student accounts and budget departments;

*appointed a compliance committee composed of institutional representatives of the university departments that interact with student-athletes, a committee that began work in April 2014;

*educated applicable housing supervision staff on NCAA legislation;

*developed written policies within the housing department concerning waivers and receiving rooms in the apartments.

Below are the penalties self-imposed by Arkansas Tech and subsequently approved by the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions:

*financial aid reductions in men’s basketball for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic year, 0.5 each year over the two academic years off of the four-year average of 8.58 for a total reduction of 1.0;

*financial aid reductions in women’s basketball for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic year, 0.35 each year over the two academic years off of the four-year average of 8.99 for a total reduction of 0.7;

*reduction in men’s basketball recruiting calendars for two academic years of two weeks each during the June 15-Aug. 1 evaluation period, beginning June 15, 2014, and ending June 15, 2016;

*reduction in the women’s basketball recruiting calendar for one academic year of three weeks during the June 15-Aug. 1 evaluation period, beginning June 15, 2014, and ending June 15, 2015;

*reduction of one official visit in men’s basketball off of the four-year average of 4.5 during the 2014-15 academic year;

*reduction of one official visit in women’s basketball off of the four-year average of 5.25 during the 2014-15 academic year;

*reduction of countable athletic-related activity hours in men’s basketball during the championship segment (October 2014 to March 2015 and October 2015 to March 2016) from 20 hours per week to 18 hours per week;

*and reduction of countable athletic-related activity hours in women’s basketball during the championship segment (October 2014 to March 2015 and October 2015 to March 2016) from 20 hours per week to 18 hours per week.

In addition to the self-imposed penalties, the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions instituted the following penalties:

*public reprimand and censure;

*two years of probation beginning June 4, 2015;

*a financial penalty of $5,000;

*attendance at an NCAA regional rules seminar during the first year of probation by the vice president who oversees the housing office and the athletics compliance officer;

*and vacating all wins in which student-athletes competed from the time they became ineligible through the time their eligibility was reinstated.

Arkansas Tech University accepted all of the additional penalties imposed by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions except for the vacation of wins penalty, and the legal case now pending seeks only to restore those wins.

Comments

  1. Steven Glen Mercure says:

    Seems like a bit of a steep penalty. Perhaps I don’t understand, but this is about a deposit, right? A deposit that the student athlete would have gotten back if the apartment is well cared for and in good condition at the end of the semester or year, right? The argument could be made that the University was only hurting themselves by not collecting the deposit. The deposit money was not sitting in a bank account gathering interest that could have been kept by ATU. Yes, Tech broke the rules of the time frame, but did they gain a competitive advantage? Not a violation worthy of vacating wins as if the players were not qualified to be at ATU for an education.

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