NEWS
ADDITIONAL NEWS
What is a "Failure to Monitor"?: A Review of the Committee on Infractions' Expectations, Part III [Higher-Ed/College Athletics Best Practices Alert (First Quarter 2014)]

Author: Michael L. Buckner, Esquire (Shareholder)

NCAA Constitution 2.8.1 declares a member institution "shall comply with all applicable rules and regulations of the Association in the conduct of its intercollegiate athletics programs" and "shall monitor its programs to assure compliance and to identify and report to the Association instances in which compliance has not been achieved." Buckner continues its multi-part series exploring an institution's duty to monitor compliance with NCAA legislation. The entries in this series will use decisions and commentary from the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions to illustrate the scope of an institution's duty to monitor. The third article in this series reviews the November 26, 2013, decision of the Committee on Infractions in the Fordham University enforcement case.

The case involved the impermissible awarding of athletically-related financial aid by the institution to numerous prospective student-athletes prior to their full-time enrollment. The Committee on Infractions determined during the summer sessions from 2008 through 2011, “the institution provided financial aid to 87 prospective student-athletes enrolled in less than six hours of academic course work. The prospective student-athletes were enrolled in courses prior to their initial full-time enrollment at the institution, and thus in violation of NCAA Bylaw 15.2.8.1.4, which requires enrollment in at least six credits for such students.” The Committee on Infractions noted the “violations were a product of mistaken beliefs by the athletics academic advising and athletics compliance offices surrounding a potential rule change, and a failure to monitor that would have caught the mistakes.” The committee also concluded the institution “failed to monitor the award of athletically related financial aid to prospective student-athletes prior to their full time enrollment because the applicable NCAA legislation was misunderstood, there was a failure in intra-campus communication, the institution did not implement a solution and campus offices were not sufficiently monitored.”

In its decision, the Committee on Infractions re-articulated the core aspect of an institution’s monitoring of athletics compliance: “To assure compliance with NCAA rules and regulations, the institution must monitor its athletics programs and identify and report any noncompliance. The institution's shortcomings in understanding, communicating and implementing proper policies, and monitoring the applicable NCAA legislation resulted in the institution's failure to monitor.” Further, the Committee on Infractions listed specific reasons why the institution failed to monitor:

  1. The athletics academic advising staff did not adequately understand the applicable NCAA legislation. Further, the athletics academic advising staff failed to conduct their “due diligence and subsequently follow-up with the athletics compliance office or conduct a Legislative Services Database (LSDBi) search to determine the status” of a proposal that impacted existing legislation.
  2. The athletics compliance office did not adequately communicate the proposal’s status to the athletics academic advising office. Also, the athletics compliance office failed to ensure a protocol to address current legislation was implemented by the athletics academic advising staff.
  3. The institution did not implement proper policies to confirm compliance with the applicable legislation. In addition, the athletics compliance staff failed to verify that proper procedures were implemented by reviewing prospective student-athletes' receipt of athletically related aid.
  4. The institution failed to sufficiently monitor the athletics academic advising staff when it “assumed that the athletics academic advising office required prospective student-athletes to enroll in six credit hours” and did not review prospects’ academic records to verify compliance with the legislation.

Contact Michael L. Buckner (954-941-1844; mbuckner@bucknersportslaw.com) for more information pertaining to the NCAA enforcement process and decisions of the Committee on Infractions.