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Publish date: Jul 26, 2013

Montana failed to monitor football program

The University of Montana and its former head football coach failed to monitor its football program, according to findings by the Division I Committee on Infractions. University boosters provided extra benefits to football players, including meals, free legal representation and bail bond payments, a small loan, clothing, lodging, transportation and laundry services. Additionally, the football team exceeded coaching limits and two former student-athletes competed while ineligible. As a result of this activity, the university and the former head coach failed to monitor.   

 Penalties in this case, many of which were self-imposed, include a three-year probation period, scholarship reductions, a vacation of wins in which the ineligible student-athletes participated and reduction in the number of undergraduate student assistant positions. The former head coach, among other consequences, will be suspended from coaching duties at his current university for the first game of the 2013 season and face multiple recruiting restrictions during the upcoming fall season.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and involved individuals must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be utilized instead of having a formal hearing.

When two student-athletes were arrested in 2011, a university booster provided bail. Another booster then provided the student-athletes with free legal representation. According to NCAA rules, a law firm may provide a student-athlete free legal assistance if it has a history of providing pro bono services to other individuals, including the general student body at the school, and the student-athlete initiated contact with the law firm. Additionally, two student-athletes competed in regular and postseason games while they were ineligible, due to the provision of bail and free legal assistance.

Following the release of the two student-athletes from jail, the former head coach learned that a booster provided bail for the two student-athletes. The former head coach did not inform the compliance office or any other administrator of the booster activity. Senior athletics department officials, including the compliance director and director of athletics, were also aware that the booster was providing legal assistance to the student-athletes.

Three married couples, who were university boosters, provided meals for at least eight student-athletes on more than 100 occasions from 2004 through 2012. Additionally, one of the couples provided a student-athlete with free storage space for two months, transportation, apparel and a small cash loan. An assistant director of athletics also committed a secondary violation by providing a student-athlete with meals, snacks, lodging and laundry services..

During the 2011-12 academic year, the football program employed a student assistant that performed activities allowed only for coaches.

The former head coach failed to monitor the football program by not reporting the booster activity surrounding the arrest of the two student-athletes, not monitoring the relationships between boosters and student-athletes and allowing a student assistant to engage in coaching activity. The university failed to monitor the football program when it did not supervise the booster activity surrounding the provision of legal services to student-athletes.

Penalties and measures for the former head coach at his current university include:

The university penalties, including those imposed by the university, include:

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA; John Black, attorney; Greg Christopher, athletics director at Xavier University; Christopher L. Griffin, coordinator of appeals and attorney; Brian Halloran, attorney; Roscoe Howard Jr., attorney; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; and Greg Sankey executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference.

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