Play along at home. Which of the following is an NCAA violation?
1. Staff place an impermissible sticker on an envelope sent to recruits. 2. After several NCAA-kosher calls are dropped, a recruit texts a coach to say he’ll call later. The coach texts back an acknowledgement. 3. A student-athlete uses her host’s allowance to buy a $9.99 keychain for a recruit.
Violations, by year
2010 » 19
2011 » 22
2012 » 25
2013 » 28
Violations, by sport
Football » 16
Basketball » 15
Soccer » 10
Volleyball » 9
Swimming » 7
Women’s tennis » 7
Baseball » 7
Women’s basketball » 5
Women’s track » 5
Softball » 4
Gymnastics » 4
Men’s tennis » 3
Skiing » 2
Golf » 1
Strength and conditioning » 1
In the eyes of the U.’s compliance office, all of them.
Utah Athletics self-reported 99 violations between January 2010 and June 2014, according to a spreadsheet obtained via a records request. Almost all are in the vein of those mentioned above.
The U.’s compliance office provides advice, fights for waivers, and polices the improper mailing techniques, tweets and butt-dials that induce eye-rolling whenever this information is made public. For instance: The Oklahoman reported in February that Oklahoma self-reported that three athletes were provided "pasta in excess," at a cost of $3.83 per serving.
In the NCAA, complying is a sport of its own.
Compliance director Kate Charipar says the U. has been especially vigilant since its last major infraction in 2003. Rick Majerus’ Runnin’ Utes were placed on probation, their scholarships reduced, and the school was found to have had "a lack of institutional control."
"Maybe we had that major infraction in basketball, but it changed the culture in every sport," Charipar said.
The most frequent violators were football (16) and men’s basketball (15) — the sports with the most scholarships and the most robust staffs.
The U. redacted the offending sport in three instances, citing privacy concerns for the student-athletes under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
"You know what, we’re going to make mistakes," Charipar said. "The rulebook is huge, and it changes all the time. If we had no mistakes, that would worry me."
For most violations, penalties were mild. Athletes were ruled ineligible and then soon reinstated, and teams were docked practice or recruiting time (at a two-for-one rate). Both athletes and coaches then generally received some pointers on compliance.
Those resulting in the biggest penalties include:
May 2012 » The men’s basketball staff exceeded their permissible recruiting days by 13 and saw their 2013 recruiting days cut by 26.
July 2012 » A women’s track athlete transferred from a foreign institution and competed without certification. She was declared ineligible and the school was fined $5,000, the maximum allowable penalty. Charipar says there was a misunderstanding between the coaches and compliance that led to her competing without filling out mandatory paperwork. The error wasn’t discovered, Charipar recollects, until review of the per diem travel for Pac-12 Championships. But it sounds more dramatic than it was, Charipar said, because "she never once scored points for us during the season."
August 2012 » A transfer volleyball player received aid while ineligible during spring and summer 2012 while ineligible. She was ordered to pay back the full amount, but the U. appealed and the payment was cut by roughly 75 percent. The fault was with a previous institution for providing misinformation, Charipar said.
March 2014 » Two volleyball players competed in a "casual event" with a previous team and will be required to sit out the first game of next season. Charipar said it was "kind of like if you show up at the club and play a pickup game."
Violations steadily rose, from 19 in 2010 to 28 in 2013, but there were just five in the first five months of 2014.
Charipar said she’s not sure those four years necessarily indicate a long-term trend, but there are a number of reasons violations might become more frequent: better monitoring mechanisms — including software that has helped sort data in recent years; more staff — both to monitor and to be monitored; and the move to the Pac-12 — which invited more scrutiny.
Also, two things to bear in mind:
1. The number of self-reports may reflect a willingness to self-report as much as it does the frequency of actual transgressions.Next Page >
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