NCAA Cites Northern Arizona Women's Basketball for Academic Violations

Kylie Osullivan Bfa Blvcbti8 Unsplash

A former Northern Arizona associate athletics director violated academic integrity rules when she provided impermissible assistance to a student-athlete during a placement exam, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. Because the academic integrity violation constituted an impermissible benefit, the student-athlete went on to compete in 10 games while ineligible. 

The school, former associate athletics director for academics, and enforcement staff agreed that the violation occurred when the administrator provided a student-athlete with a significant number of answers to a math placement exam. Although the student-athlete would not have received academic credit for this exam, the conduct violates NCAA rules for academic misconduct and amounts to an impermissible benefit. The school's online proctoring service flagged the exam for irregularities, and after reviewing audio and video recordings of the exam, its results were discarded and the matter was referred to the school's academic integrity hearing board to determine further university-level sanctions.

Following the completion of its internal processes, the school notified the NCAA that the violations had occurred.  During their collaborative investigation, the parties learned that school officials erroneously believed the student-athlete did not need to be ruled ineligible and withheld from competition until she was reinstated. As a result, the school and the enforcement staff agreed that the student-athlete competed in 10 games and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible. 

This case was processed through the negotiated resolution process. The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary disposition because the university, enforcement staff and former associate athletics director agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the Association and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases.

The university, enforcement staff and former associate athletics director used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree upon Level II-mitigated penalties for the university and Level II-standard penalties for the former associate athletics director. The decision contains the full list of penalties as approved by the Committee on Infractions, including:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former associate athletics director. During that period, any NCAA member school employing her shall ensure that the associate athletics director abides by the following terms: 
    • Attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at her own expense. 
    • Participate in the N4A Professional Development Institute at her own expense.
    • Present rules education sessions concerning academic misconduct and lessons learned from the infractions case to the athletics staff and student-athletes at her current institution.
  • A vacation of all records in which the student-athlete competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public release of the decision. 

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Joe Novak, former football head coach at Northern Illinois; Dave Roberts, chief hearing officer for the panel and special advisor to Southern California; and Tricia Turley Brandenburg, executive associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Army West Point.

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