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ACU penalized for NCAA rules violations

The NCAA penalized Abilene Christian University’s track and field and football programs on Thursday for what it called “major violations” in areas including recruiting, academic assistance and housing, according to a statement released by the Division II Committee on Infractions.
ACU was placed on two years probation and will pay a $2,500 fine. Other measures, such as a reduction in recruitment visits and loss of scholarships in track and field, also will be enacted.
“To be clear, we maintain that these infractions do not include intentional violations,” ACU President Royce Money said. “While we had systems in place at the time of the infractions, this investigation has led us to strengthen our compliance education.”
ACU director of athletics Jared Mosley said the university began implementing changes immediately after becoming aware of the infractions, which were voluntarily disclosed to the NCAA.
“I want to reiterate my personal commitment to running a sound athletics program through the corrective measures that we have taken,” Mosley said in a statement, “and I believe our university is in a much better place today as a result of this process.  We have been reviewing and implementing steps we feel necessary to help in the education of our coaching staff, student-athletes, friends and supporters.”
The Wildcats also must vacate, or erase, all wins for the football program for games in which ineligible student-athletes receiving academic assistance competed from the time they became ineligible in the summer of 2007 until reinstated by the NCAA. The names of the players involved were not made public.
ACU went 10-3 in 2007 and reached the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs, all victories that the Wildcats must forfeit, according to the NCAA. ACU said it will consider an appeal of that decision.
Though the reprimand and censure cited both programs, “the majority of the violations occurred in … track and field,” the statement said, “with many committed by the head coach.”
Don D. Hood is in his fourth year as ACU’s head track and field coach. In 2008, he led the men’s and women’s teams to a sweep of the NCAA Division II outdoor national championships. He was not named in the report – only identified by title.
Wendy Taylor May, committee chairwoman, said the violations became major when the five-member panel considered the number and nature of them.
“They were done with either direct knowledge that they were violations or were of such a basic premise,” she said. “That created such a situation to be major.”
The report says Hood:

  • Provided impermissible inducements to two prospective student-athletes by signing the guarantor line on their apartment leases and giving them free running shoes.
  • Helped organize and attended holiday parties where students received gifts, clothing items, gift cards and cash, with one student-athlete receiving more than $500 cash and other benefits.
  • Failed to follow rules on certain activities, monitor assistant coaches and certain prospects who resided on campus.
  • Provided a 10 percent reduction in on-campus housing costs over a several-year period.

The report also found fault with members of the football coaching staff, saying they:

  • Helped two prospects attain NCAA academic eligibility by allowing them access to staff computers and then mailing coursework to an outside institution to be graded.
  • Failed to monitor prospective student-athletes’ on-campus housing and allowed free access to campus facilities.
  • Exceeded allotted paid visits during one academic year.

May praised ACU for its assistance in the investigation, which began in August 2007 with the track and field program and later expanded to include football.
ACU President Royce Money issued the following statement:

After initially self-reporting an infraction to the NCAA in 2007, Abilene Christian University has been cooperating with the NCAA during its investigation into some of our athletics programs.  Our philosophy has been to self-report and self-correct, and that was our process when we discovered an infraction two years ago. 

The heart of this university and of its alumni and friends is a compassionate one, and when our people see students in need – whether they are student-athletes or not – it is natural for them to react in a Christian manner, offering help where they see a need. However, we recognize it is our responsibility to do an even better job educating ourselves and our friends about NCAA rules regarding what many might see as simple acts of kindness.

Everyone at Abilene Christian cares deeply about maintaining the integrity of our athletics programs and complying with NCAA rules and regulations. We have a proud athletics tradition at ACU, and I want to make this clear to both our fans and our competitors: despite this ruling by the NCAA, that will not change. We will move forward from this with the resolve to continue to be even more diligent in each area of compliance while continuing to field national championship-caliber teams in each of our sports.
Athletics Director Jared Mosley issued the following statement:

I want to reiterate my personal commitment to running a sound and compliant athletics program through the corrective measures we have taken.  While I regret that these infractions occurred, I believe our university is in a much better place today as a result of this review of our program. 

We have implemented several changes in our current compliance processes, with a very specific focus on communication of NCAA regulations to our coaching staff, student-athletes, friends and supporters.

While we agree with a majority of the outlined punitive and corrective measures – most of which were self-imposed during this process – we are considering an appeal to the NCAA in regards to the sanctions imposed on the football program.

To see the complete report, click here.

  • Feedback
    I’m glad this has come to light. So many things go on at “Christian” universities, that are unethical, immoral and illegal. I salute ACU for being forthright about these infractions, and dealing with them properly, rather than covering up, as is so often the case.
    February, 13 2009

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