Stories

2012-2013 Women's Basketball Team Summary of the Report to the NJCAA

Volunteer State Community College

2012-2013 Women’s Basketball Team Investigation

BACKGROUND

 Following the completion of the 2012-13 women’s basketball season, the Office of the Vice President for Student Services and the Office of Human Resources received information alleging that certain student-athletes believed they had not received all scholarship monies promised them by the Women’s Basketball Coach.  In addition it was alleged that the coach had given them cash on several occasions.  The amount allegedly paid to the players in cash was approximately $3,200. The College subsequently investigated the allegations to determine whether the women’s basketball coach provided cash to players outside the normal administration of financial aid at the College and/or whether any other improper disbursement of aid to players had occurred.

The College conducted a thorough investigation of the allegations that included interviews of over 20 witnesses, the examination of confidential student educational records, surveyed all student athletes to determine whether improper distribution of financial aid and/or cash payments to student-athletes occurred more broadly than just the women’s basketball team during the 2012-13 season, and reviewed internal financial aid and athletic department procedures.

FINDINGS

Based on that investigation, the College determined that the women’s basketball coach exceeded his scholarship budget for the 2011-12 academic year.  As a result he was required to reduce the amount of athletic scholarship money he awarded to team members for the 2012-13 academic year.  Rather than inform the players of this fact, the coach made cash payments or provided other aid to certain student-athletes in an attempt to make up the difference between what he had promised them and what his scholarship budget permitted.  All players who accepted payment or other benefits outside of the normal administration of financial aid at the College violated NJCAA rules regarding permitted benefits.  The coach and, therefore, the College permitted multiple student-athletes who had received improper benefits to participate in each of its NJCAA sanctioned games during the 2012-13 season, including the post-season during which the women’s basketball team participated in the NJCAA national championship tournament.  In addition, the College was not in compliance with NJCAA regulations governing the form/content of NJCAA National Letters of intent for any member of the College’s women’s basketball team for the 2012-13 season. Based on these findings, the College has self-reported the following violations of NJCAA rules:

1. Fifteen (15) counts related to providing improper financial assistance, cash, and/or in-kind benefits, additional to and/or outside of that administered by the institution in violation of NJCAA by-laws Article VIII, Section 1(B), (C), (E)(1) & (I).

2. Eight (8) counts related to knowingly permitting student-athletes who had received improper cash and/or in-kind benefits to participate in NJCAA sanctioned athletic contests during the 2012-13 women’s basketball season in violation of NJCAA bylaws Article V, Section 11(A)(8)(a) & (c)(i) and Article VIII, Section 1(B), (C), (E)(1) & (I), and

3. Fifteen (15) counts related to violations of the requirements for Letters of Intent for members of the women’s basketball team for the 2012-2013 academic year.  Letters of intent were non-compliant with NJCAA requirements in that they did not specify categories of aid awarded (Tuition/Fees, Room/Board, Books, and Transportation costs to and from home) and/or amounts of aid awarded to the student athletes in violation of NJCAA bylaws Article VIII, Section 5(A)(2) & Sections 1(A) & (D).

The College has determined that there is no evidence that the practice of making cash payments or providing other aid to student-athletes was systemic outside of the women’s basketball program or other than the 2012-13 season.

Based on this report, the College has self-imposed the following sanctions:    

1.         Based on the findings from this investigation, the College terminated the employment of women’s basketball coach Chris Harris for his actions as documented effective September 18, 2013.

2.         The College will self-impose a one (1) year period of probation on the Athletic Department, effective from the date of this submission, subject to all the requirements for programs on athletic probation as specified in NJCAA bylaw Article V, Section 17.

3.         The College will abstain from participation in any post season contests for the 2013-2014 season for the Women’s Basketball team.

4.         The College will forfeit all regular and post-season season contests from the 2012-2013 season for the Women’s Basketball team

5.         The College will provide written notice to opposing teams from the 2012-13 season pursuant to NJCAA requirements governing such notices.

6.         The College will reduce its scholarships for the women’s basketball team by three (3) for each of the next three (3) seasons (2014-15, 2015-16, & 2016-17).

7.         The Athletic Department will implement an appropriate educational program, to be administered on an annual basis, to prevent further NJCAA violations.

8.         The Athletic Department will consult with both the NJCAA and the VSCC Financial Aid office to develop an NJCAA compliant and internally consistent format and process for articulating financial aid awards to student-athletes on NJCAA Letter of Intent documents and internal financial aid documents/systems.