NCAA Rules On Self-Reported OSU Football Violations After 'Unfounded' SI Articles

Friday, April 24th 2015, 2:07 pm
By: News On 6

An NCAA committee says it has assessed punishment after an investigation into the Oklahoma State University football program uncovered Level II violations last year. The decision from the NCAA largely backs up an investigation conducted by an outside consultant hired by the university.

The minor violations were uncovered when OSU initiated an investigation after allegations were made in a Sports Illustrated series. SI reported that OSU football was doing everything from paying players, cheating academically, providing sexual favors to recruits and ignoring rampant drug use from 2001-07.

That investigation, which OSU hired former NCAA investigator Chuck Smrt to lead, found that those allegations SI spent weeks publicizing were “fundamentally unfounded.”

Sources told News On 6 that OSU is pleased with this week's NCAA infractions panel's report and the punishment administered.

Oklahoma State University Public Infractions Decision

In October 2014, News On 6 reported Smrt's investigation into the SI allegations found minor violations and the school began corrective action on itself.

Six months ago, the self-reported violations included:

Academics: Due to specific circumstances, it was determined that a football non-coaching staff member possibly provided too much assistance to a then student-athlete.

Drug Testing: The policy was not followed on a few occasions, but investigation said the student-athletes' athletics abilities were not the reason for this failure.

Orange Pride: It was determined that the Orange Pride program was not sufficiently aligned with the Admissions Office, resulting in certain recruiting activities (i.e., accompanying coaching staff members on campus tours with prospects) being contrary to NCAA legislation.

That information was passed along from the school to the NCAA Committee on Infractions for possible punishment.

Announced on Friday by the NCAA, penalties and corrective actions self-imposed by OSU and adopted by the panel include:
  • A one-year probation period from April 24, 2015 through April 23, 2016.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A $3,500 fine representing $500 for each of the seven games in which a football student-athlete participated when he should have been withheld.
  • The school and football program may not use the Orange Pride program, and may not organize another student group to assist in recruiting prospects for four years.

    Self-imposed restrictions by OSU include:

  • A limit of 30 official visits per year during the 2015-16 and 2015-16 years (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of coaches participating in off-campus evaluations by one (from 10 to nine in the fall and nine to eight in the spring) during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 years (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction in the number of evaluation days by 10 days in the fall and spring during the 2015-16 and 2015-16 years (self-imposed by the university).
While decisions made by athletics staff in this case resulted in NCAA violations, the infractions panel said it did not find that the university failed to monitor its football program.

However, the panel concluded that the university violated its own drug testing policy and committed recruiting violations during times between 2008-2012. NCAA rules require that if schools have a drug testing policy in place, it must include substances on the banned list and the school must follow its policy, the NCAA said.

“The athletics director believed he had latitude in the application of the policy and deferred to the head football coach's recommendation on whether to suspend student-athletes who failed a drug test,” the NCAA wrote. “As a result, five football student-athletes competed in a total of seven games when they should have been withheld from competition.”

About the Orange Pride program, the female student group used at recruiting events, the NCAA says student hosts should not cater to one specific group of prospective student-athletes, but to all prospective students to the school.

“Over the course of four years, the university's Orange Pride program engaged in impermissible hosting activities during football prospects' official and unofficial visits. The Orange Pride is an all-female group organized and directed by the football program to participate in hosting during recruiting events. NCAA rules do not allow the use of student hosts in a way that is inconsistent with the university's policies on providing campus tours or visits to all prospective students. The panel was concerned with the university's continued use of the group despite information distributed by the NCAA specifying that groups like Orange Pride for athletics recruiting was impermissible,” the NCAA says.

Oklahoma State President Burns Hargis released this statement on the ruling.

"We respect and accept the decision of the Division I Committee on Infractions and are very thankful for their review of this matter," he said. "The committee agreed with our position that only two of the three allegations were established and those two findings did not warrant significant penalties. While the institution diligently strives to avoid any NCAA infractions, these findings did not result from deliberate actions by institutional personnel to violate NCAA legislation."