The Morgan State head softball coach committed NCAA violations when he and the softball coaching staff conducted impermissible tryouts with four prospective student-athletes at institutional and off-campus facilities, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. Due to his personal involvement in the violations, he also violated head coach responsibility rules.
The school, head coach and enforcement staff agreed that violations occurred when the head coach and the softball coaching staff conducted tryouts, usually during prospects' unofficial visits to Morgan State. A total of five impermissible tryouts occurred with four prospects over the course of approximately one year. Several softball student-athletes were also involved in the impermissible tryouts.
More specifically, the head coach arranged at least two meetings with a prospect at an off-campus facility where she pitched to individuals, including a student-athlete, while the head coach provided the prospect with instruction. The head coach also directed a second prospect to field ground balls and throw to a student-athlete during an unofficial visit. In addition, a member of the softball coaching staff invited a third prospect, who attended the softball team's practice during an unofficial visit, to join a team infield/outfield session to field fly balls and later invited the prospect to an athletic facility to further observe her athletic ability. Lastly, the head coach and other members of the softball staff observed a fourth prospect pitching to a student-athlete during an unofficial visit. In each case, the activities violated NCAA rules because the head coach and his staff conducted drills and observed the prospects displaying their athletics abilities, which constitutes impermissible tryouts.
The parties agreed that due to his personal involvement in the violations, the softball head coach violated head coach responsibility rules. He also did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere for compliance because he did not report the violations to compliance and continued to engage in the same behaviors.
This case was processed through the negotiated resolution process. The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary disposition because the university, the enforcement staff and softball head coach 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 the head coach used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree upon Level II-standard penalties for the school and the head coach. The decision contains the full list of penalties as approved by the Committee on Infractions, including:
- Two years of probation.
- A $5,000 fine.
- A one-year show-cause order for the head softball coach. During that period, Morgan State or any NCAA member school employing the head coach must prohibit him from all recruiting communication, off-campus recruiting and evaluations for four weeks in July 2023, and require him to attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at his own expense.
- A suspension from the first five games (10% of the regular season) for the head coach during the first season of the show-cause period.
- A maximum of 10 combined official and unofficial visits for the softball program during the 2023-24 academic year.
- A prohibition on recruiting communication, off-campus recruiting and evaluations in softball for four weeks in July 2023, which will run concurrently with the head coach's relevant show-cause terms should he be employed at Morgan State.
- A 10-year disassociation from a former softball student-athlete who refused to cooperate with the school's and enforcement staff's investigation (self-imposed by the school).
Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the committee who reviewed this case are Gary Miller, president of Akron; Joe Novak, former football head coach at Northern Illinois; and Dave Roberts, chief hearing officer for the panel and special advisor to Southern California.