Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ATHENS --- In its official response filed to the NCAA, the University of Georgia admits rules were broken by its legendary swimming and diving coach Jack Bauerle. But the school does not believe the misdeeds rise to a "Level I" violation, as was initially charged, and asked the NCAA to handle the case instead as a Level II violation.
The NCAA has 60 days to consider the Bulldogs' position and set a date for the school to go before the infractions committee.
UGA filed its response to the NCAA on Monday, which was within the allotted 90-day period to do so. The documents, including an 80-page response from Bauerle, were turned over to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late Thursday afternoon in compliance with an open-records request for information on the case.
UGA officials declined to comment beyond what was detailed in the 244-page document, which was prepared by attorney Mike Glazier of Overland Park, Kan.
"It is what it is," said Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, reached by phone while vacationing in the North Georgia mountains. "We won't have any comment beyond the information that has been distributed to the NCAA."
Bauerle also declined to comment. He is scheduled to leave on an extended vacation to Taiwan today and has a trip to Indonesia planned in late August.
In its response, Georgia makes no attempt to argue against any of the charges alleged by the NCAA when it served the school with a Notice of Allegation on April 2. At that time, Bauerle was accused of providing an extra benefit to star swimmer Chase Kalisz and a breach of the coach's conduct code when he interceded on an academic matter by personally reaching out to a university professor in December 2013.
The Bulldogs admitted that the 35-year veteran coach made a mistake, but countered that his body of work for producing high-achieving students should be taken into heavy consideration. Georgia also characterizes Bauerle's actions as a singular act by one coach and claims it was not representative of a pattern of wrongdoing either by him or the athletic department.
According to the documents, UGA has self-imposed several penalties, all of which were directed at Bauerle. The Bulldogs told the NCAA that Bauerle will remain under indefinite suspension until the NCAA adjudicates the case, will receive a letter of reprimand, will receive no financial increases through the duration of his contract (which expires June 30, 2017), have all future bonuses reduced by $5,000 and attend the NCAA's 2015 rules seminar.
Georgia argues there is no need for penalties against its highly decorated swimming and diving program because "it's a Level II case with substantial mitigation" and no recruiting or competitive advantages resulted.
"The university has imposed penalties on the coach that exceed those set forth in the penalty guidelines," UGA said in the response. "Placing the burden of responsibility on the coach and not on uninvolved, innocent student-athletes is appropriate."
Whether the NCAA accepts UGA's recommendation to consider this a Level II violation is a big deal. Under the new violations structure implemented in 2012, the NCAA considers a Level I violation "most egregious" and one "that seriously undermines or threatens the integrity of any of the NCAA enduring values (student-athlete success, the collegiate model, amateurism as a student model, competitive equity), including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a significant or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or significant or extensive impermissible benefit," according to NCAA.com.
A Level II violation is characterized as "serious" and "intended to provide a minimal to significant recruiting, competitive or other advantage or includes a minimal to significant impermissible benefit; or involves a pattern of systemic violations in a particular area." What used to be referred to as a "secondary violation" is now known as a Level III.
Ultimately it will be up to an NCAA infractions committee to determine the level of Bauerle's actions. UGA officials said the hearing will take place "sometime this fall." In the meantime, the NCAA has 60 days to meet with UGA's leadership for a "prehearing conference," which is next in the process.
Here's what put Georgia in this situation:
* Toward the end of fall semester, Kalisz informed Bauerle he was concerned he might not pass one of his classes. Kalisz had only 12 hours of class credit to that point and was enrolled in 12 for fall semester. NCAA student-athletes are required to pass 24 hours per year to maintain their athletic eligibility.
* On Dec. 10, Bauerle asked Karl Kuhnert, an associate professor of industrial-organizational psychology, to add Kalisz into his Psychology 4800 independent study class for fall semester. At that time, the fall semester had concluded. By contacting the professor, Bauerle violated the UGA athletic association's policy prohibiting communications between coaches and instructors.
* On Dec. 16, Kalisz received a passing grade in the added course despite not doing any work for the class. UGA alleges that the Kuhnert mistakenly gave Kalisz a satisfactory grade as he did the rest of the students in the class. He intended to post an "I," or incomplete, with the agreement that Kalisz would do the required work later only if he needed the class hours.
In the end, Kalisz passed all the classes in which he was previously enrolled and did not need the additional hours to maintain his eligibility. The sophomore returned to competition after missing three meets in January and eventually repeated as NCAA 400 individual medley national champion.
Bauerle has withheld comment throughout the proceedings, but other individuals have come out strongly in his defense. Dick Hudson, a professor in Georgia's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and a close friend of Bauerle, says he believes UGA is making Bauerle a scapegoat.
"Jack went through a stop sign, and they're trying to charge him with hit and run," Hudson said Thursday. "The compliance guy over there is trying to make an issue out of something that shouldn't have been."