Missouri Southern State Hit With Multiple Violations Over Failure to Monitor Football Program

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Missouri Southern State failed to monitor its football program, which committed multiple NCAA violations over two academic years, including impermissible recruiting inducements and benefits, academic misconduct and violations of countable athletically related activities, according to an agreement released by the Division II Committee on Infractions. A former football assistant coach also violated ethical conduct rules and did not cooperate with an NCAA investigation.

The former football head coach violated head coach responsibility rules and ethical conduct rules when he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance with NCAA rules and was directly involved in violations, according to a decision released by the committee. He failed to monitor his staff's involvement in student-athletes' academics after threatening staff jobs if student-athletes failed to perform academically, and he engaged in unethical conduct when he did not meet his obligation to cooperate with an investigation and denied involvement in the violations.

This case used different resolution paths. The school and the former academic advisor agreed to the violations and penalties and resolved their case through a negotiated resolution. The former assistant coach did not participate in the investigation, and his violations and penalties were uncontested. The former head coach contested the violations but ultimately stopped participating in the infractions process. The committee considered his violations on the written record.

The university, former academic advisor and enforcement staff agreed that the advisor provided impermissible recruiting inducements and impermissible benefits on multiple occasions. The advisor had existing relationships with two student-athletes from her previous job. The first student-athlete lived cost-free at the advisor's home for several months prior to his enrollment at Missouri Southern State, amounting to approximately $2,000 in impermissible inducements. The advisor also paid an outstanding tuition bill of approximately $1,500 from his previous school, which allowed him to enroll at Missouri Southern State. The advisor later paid a $500 bail fee for another student-athlete who had been arrested while enrolled at the school. Even though both student-athletes ultimately repaid the advisor, the benefits violated NCAA rules.

The committee also determined that an additional violation involving recruiting inducements occurred when, after being hired by Missouri Southern State, the former football head coach began recruiting a community college student-athlete who had played for the coach at his previous school. That prospect had an outstanding tuition bill at his prior school, and as a result the college would not release his transcripts so he could transfer. The head coach arranged for a booster to pay that tuition bill, which amounted to more than $8,000. The payment constitutes an impermissible recruiting inducement, and the head coach's direct involvement violated ethical conduct rules. The prospect later enrolled and competed in eight contests, receiving actual and necessary expenses associated with those competitions, while ineligible.

The school and the enforcement staff agreed that during two consecutive summers, the football coaching staff required student-athletes to participate in "captain's practices," which involved athlete-led drills and seven-on-seven activities. Those practices were scheduled to accommodate training, summer classes and job schedules for student-athletes, and were directed and observed by members of the coaching staff, resulting in the program exceeding the allowed countable athletics-related activity. The head coach later admitted he was aware of the practices.

Additionally, the school and the enforcement staff agreed that the former assistant coach pressured an enrolled student-athlete to complete coursework for a prospect. The assistant coach threatened to withhold the student-athlete's scholarship if he did not complete the online courses and strictly advised him not to speak to anyone about that arrangement. 

The committee concluded that the head coach failed to monitor his staff's involvement in student-athletes' academics after he threated their jobs if student-athletes failed to perform, noting that "as a result of these threats, an assistant coach engaged in academic misconduct."

The committee also determined that the head coach did not promote an atmosphere for compliance. In its decision, the committee stated, "[H]e personally created an environment where the athletics leadership and compliance were considered the enemy and used fear and intimidation with his staff members to further that divide. His approach was the antithesis of a compliant program[.]"  

The school and enforcement staff agreed that Missouri Southern State failed to monitor its football program. While the school was aware of the tensions between the football program and the athletics department, the school did not enforce the reporting structure with the football head coach or his staff.

Finally, the head coach engaged in unethical conduct when he did not meet his obligation to cooperate with an investigation. In addition to providing demonstrably false or misleading information to investigators, the head coach did not agree to violations and penalties in the negotiated resolution with the school and academic advisor but did not respond to the staff's subsequent notice of allegations or multiple requests for a response from the Committee on Infractions.

The university and the enforcement staff used ranges identified by the Division II membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree upon the following penalties:

  • Three years of probation, through Nov. 2, 2025.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A reduction in football scholarships to 34.2 for the 2022-23 academic year.
  • A vacation of all football records in which student-athletes 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.
  • A one-week prohibition against off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former academic advisor.
  • A four-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach.
  • A two-year disassociation of the booster, as detailed in the public negotiated resolution.

After reviewing the head coach's case, the committee also prescribed the following penalty:

  • A seven-year show-cause order for the former head coach.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA member schools and conferences and members of the public. The committee members who reviewed this case are Jessica Chapin, director of athletics at American International; David Hansburg, director of athletics at Colorado School of Mines; John David Lackey, attorney; Richard Loosbrock, faculty athletics representative at Adams State; Melissa Reilly, associate commissioner at the East Coast Conference; Leslie Schuemann, senior woman administrator/deputy commissioner at the Great Midwest Athletic Conference; and Jason Sobolik, assistant athletics director for compliance and student services at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

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