WVU football: Luck is pleased NCAA accepted WVU's self-imposed penalties
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The lengthy NCAA investigation of West Virginia University's football program ended Friday when it accepted the school's self-imposed penalties for five major rule violations.
The Mountaineers acknowledged, and the NCAA Committee on Infractions agreed, the football program exceeded coaching staff limitations, conducted impermissible athletically related activities and former coaches Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart and WVU as a whole failed to properly monitor activities.
WVU, which filed a summary disposition report in March as part of what the NCAA called a "cooperative endeavor," suggested a series of punishments for the infractions and the NCAA approved without adding any of its own. Most notable among the penalties is a two-year probation period through July 7, 2013.
"I am pleased that the Committee accepted the self-imposed penalties the University proposed, without imposing any additional ones," WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck said. "The University has already taken corrective action and put new systems in place to address all the issues raised."
In the probation period, WVU must continue to develop its rules awareness program, turn in a preliminary report on the schedule of the educational program by Aug. 30, file annual reports by July 1 highlighting the program's progress and submit documentation WVU is complying with the penalties.
At the end of the probation, WVU President Jim Clements will write a letter proving the Mountaineers are conforming with all the NCAA's rules.
"We have taken this case very seriously from the beginning and, as we've said, will move forward with a complete commitment to compliance in all that we do," Luck said.
In addition to the educational program, WVU must exercise some transparency in the future and tell football recruits about the probation and the violations. If the recruit is coming on an official visit, he must be told in advance. The probation and the violations must also be published in the football media guide and a "general institution alumni publication."
The Mountaineers cut a pair of graduate assistant positions as well as two scholarships for the 2010-11 school year and will dock itself one scholarship for the upcoming school year.
Other penalties were already in effect. During an open week this past season WVU sent out seven coaches for recruiting as opposed to 10. During spring recruiting this offseason, WVU sent out six coaches instead of seven. The Mountaineers also cut their workout time in the winter, spring and summer by 46.25 hours.
Additionally, WVU did away with its director of player development and last summer moved Dale Wolfley from that job to the position of coordinator of the Varsity Club. The director of recruiting operations and other graduate assistants were prohibited from sitting in on coaching meetings.
WVU also sent letters of reprimand to Stewart, Wolfley, four unnamed assistant coaches, director of strength and conditioning Mike Joseph, director of football operations Mike Kerin and an unnamed a football staff member. They must attend a NCAA rules seminar this year at their own expense. Kerin, Wolfley and the "football staff member" are ineligible for any merit-based pay raises this year.
The NCAA contacted Clements Oct. 12, 2009, to tell him WVU was suspected of "potential NCAA violations." That was the result of the NCAA's investigation of Michigan and Rodriguez earlier that fall. On April 21, 2010 the NCAA enforcement staff sent WVU the official notice of inquiry, which was followed Aug. 4 by a notice of allegations.
WVU committed five major violations and one secondary violation under both Rodriguez and Stewart from 2005 to 2009. Both coaches were said to have allowed non-coaching staff members to perform coaching duties, like supervise offseason drills and workouts, watch film with and instruct players and attend coaching meetings. The university ultimately agreed it had overstepped the limits on the coaching staff by allowing graduate assistants, quality control coaches, student managers, the director of high school relations and the director of player development to operate like coaches.
Additionally, WVU admitted to doing things in time frames prohibited by NCAA rules. The Mountaineers let graduate assistants conduct summer skill development drills and monitor and direct 7-on-7 workouts from 2005-09. In 2008-09, the director of player development, a student assistant coach, quality control graduate assistants and a student manager were involved.
In the winters of 2006-09 coaching staff members conducted skill development drills even though NCAA rules prohibit anything but conditioning, weight training and film review at that time. Still, after the workouts, coaches were said to have met with their players and go through position-specific drills for 15 or 20 minutes twice a week.
With all of that as incentive, Rodriguez and Stewart were accused of a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance while WVU was said to have failed to adequately monitor the football program. In the end, all three were guilty of the lesser charge of a failure to monitor. Rodriguez admitted he failed to monitor and "did not know whether NCAA rules allowed involvement in summer voluntary activities by his graduate assistant coaches," according to the NCAA, but Rodriguez also said he "did not direct graduate assistants to monitor or conduct the summer activities."
Four of the six graduate assistants involved said they remembered Rodriguez telling them how to conduct those skill sessions. The NCAA didn't continue with the charge of a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance, though, because it couldn't prove that as well as a failure to monitor. The NCAA needed to be able to prove both and said, "Not only did the staff not allege a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance on behalf of (Rodriguez), the summary disposition report contained no facts that would support such a finding. The narrative spoke only to (Rodriguez's) failure to monitor and did not address any failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance."
Stewart and the NCAA also agreed on the facts that made up the violations and Stewart confessed he, too, failed to adequately monitor. However, the NCAA said Stewart "mistakenly believed it was permissible for his graduate assistants to monitor and conduct summer skill development activities. He was an assistant coach under (Rodriguez) and, after (Rodriguez) departed the institution, the activities that had occurred during (Rodriguez's) tenure continued."
Stewart said he was "uncertain" the rules prevented the graduate assistants from working in skill development, but was aware the director of skill development and director of high school relations could not.
Before the 2009 season Stewart held a staff meeting to correct the mistakes.
The NCAA said Stewart and his staff "did not intend to violate NCAA rules, but the institution gained more than a minimal competitive advantage by allowing numerous noncoaching staff members to be involved with student-athlete activities over a period of years.
"Therefore, the violations set forth in the summary disposition report are major."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-319-1142.