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NCAA accuses UO athletics of multiple violations

The University of Oregon receives notice of potential NCAA infractions in the track and field and men’s and women’s basketball programs.

Posted: Dec. 21, 2017 12:23 PM
Updated: Dec. 22, 2017 9:55 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- The NCAA is accusing the University of Oregon's track and field and men’s and women’s basketball programs of multiple violations.

The university said they are taking responsibility and has taken steps to address the issue with the staff members involved. The university disagrees on the level of infraction that NCAA enforcement staff assigned to the charges. They also don't agree with the decision to level charges against two head coaches.

"In those instances, the facts do not support the enforcement staff’s position nor does NCAA case precedent, and we plan to defend the university, our faculty and our head coaches."

The university said the violations will not happen again.

The NCAA said the UO detected and self-reported all infractions and imposed “meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties.” They also said the university has a history of self-reporting violations and has “exhausted significant resources and spent countless hours reviewing surveillance footage” in the alleged infractions in the men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The university released details of each violation:

-Allegation 1 charges academic misconduct involving a former track and field student-athlete and a faculty member. The faculty member changed a grade from failing to passing for a student-athlete, contingent on that student completing coursework at a later date. The university’s faculty athletics representative discovered the grade change, the university determined it was a violation of the UO’s grading policy, the student was immediately removed from competition and it was reported to the NCAA. As recent Committee on Infractions rulings have made clear, the NCAA gives sole power to the university in determining what constitutes academic misconduct. In this case, the university’s internal controls worked; there was no academic misconduct. The violation should be charged as an impermissible academic benefit.

“It is the role of the University Senate, the administration and other campus stakeholders to define and assess academic standards at the University of Oregon. Our faculty take very seriously our responsibility to ensure that no student is unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged as it relates to academic opportunity,” said Chris Sinclair, president of the University Senate and professor of mathematics. "While we acknowledge this was a violation of grading policy, this incident does not rise to our community standards for academic fraud or misconduct.”

-Allegation 6 charges that head men’s basketball coach Dana Altman failed to properly monitor his program when it was discovered that noncoaching staff members had conducted prohibited workouts with a handful of student-athletes and improperly participated in on-court activities (outlined in allegations 2 and 3). While we acknowledge the impermissible workout violation — one of the noncoaching staff members was suspended — the charge of head coach responsibility is not justified. We believe such a charge was intended for coaches who do not demonstrate a strong commitment to compliance and ethical stands, and this instance falls considerably short of the legislative intent and case precedent. The violation should be charged as an impermissible coaching activities infraction.

“I fully acknowledge that some members of our staff made mistakes when it comes to refereeing practice games and working out some players,” Altman said. “We have taken steps to correct these issues with our staff, and we are committed to complying with NCAA rules.”

-Allegation 7 charges that head women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves failed to properly promote an atmosphere of compliance under the head coach responsibility bylaw. The charge stems from strength and conditioning staff members participating in on-court drills and assisting in voluntary workouts outside the presence of the coaching staff (outlined in allegation 4). The charge of head coach responsibility is, again, not justified and falls short of the legislation’s intent and case precedent. The violation also should be charged as an impermissible coaching activities infraction.

“I regret that some members of my staff made errors of judgment, and I have taken actions to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Graves said. “I am steadfastly committed to building a winning program at the UO that operates in full compliance with NCAA bylaws and is committed to the highest levels of integrity.”

Both Altman and Graves will comply with the NCAA bylaws and they acknowledge that the violations took place in their programs, said UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens.

In the fall of 2016, the UO football program improperly used an electronic reader board for recruiting purposes. The university will not contest the charge.

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