NCAA accepts self-imposed sanctions, praises MSU’s cooperation

From The Mississippi Link Newswire

STARKVILLE – The NCAA Committee on Infractions has accepted the self-imposed sanctions levied by Mississippi State University in a case that centered on the actions of a former MSU booster, a former MSU assistant football coach, and a current MSU student-athlete.

The violations were investigated by the NCAA enforcement staff with the full cooperation of the MSU Athletics Department compliance staff. The committee cited MSU for its efforts to fully investigate and uncover the violations. The violations center on the actions of a disassociated former MSU booster and the failure of the former assistant coach to report actions by that former booster to MSU compliance officials.

Britton Banowsky, chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA, said: “Mississippi State did a great job of … taking necessary action once they found the scope and severity of the problem and then owning up to it when they got to the hearing. So I think they did a great job and I’m sure that was reflected in the nature of the penalties and the fact the committee virtually accepted all of the self-imposed penalties.”

“Integrity, ethics and responsibility are core values of Mississippi State University and that includes our intercollegiate athletics program,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “We work very hard at MSU to maintain the highest standards in teaching, research, and outreach and our efforts have a positive impact on our state, our region and our nation. Athletics also plays a key role on our campus, and we seek to convey the same positive image in athletic competition as we do in our academic initiatives.”

“Therefore, we worked in close and full cooperation with the NCAA in every phase of this process. I am pleased that the Committee on Infractions recognized our good faith efforts to meet this issue head-on by taking swift action to administer self-imposed penalties and additional corrective actions to address the situation,” said Keenum.

“The steps we took underscore our determination as a university, and my strong commitment to conduct the activities of our athletic department within the framework of NCAA rules and regulations. Athletic Director Scott Stricklin, Head Coach Dan Mullen and Bracky Brett, who leads MSU’s NCAA compliance team, all share that strong commitment. I have the utmost confidence in their abilities to reiterate our zero tolerance for NCAA rules violations as we move forward,” Keenum said.

MSU will accept the penalties in total and does not plan to appeal the decision of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Keenum said.

Self-imposed penalties, most of which have already been satisfied, include recruiting restrictions, scholarship reductions and a two-year probation for the university. Two former MSU boosters were disassociated from the athletics program because of “impermissible contact” with a student-athlete. MSU removed the former assistant coach from the coaching staff and accepted his resignation.

The public report includes additional details. Most of the corrective measures indicated in the report were taken entirely from MSU’s recommendations.

The current football student-athlete involved in this matter has been reinstated through the NCAA Student Athlete Reinstatement Process, which requires that he repay $2,660 in impermissible benefits, forfeit a year of eligibility (the 2012 season) and be withheld from competition for the first five games of the 2013 season.

“We’re pleased the Committee on Infractions accepted our self-imposed actions and Mississippi State’s full cooperation,” said MSU Athletics Director Scott Stricklin.

“Mississippi State has worked hard to create a culture of compliance focused on being proactive and diligent. Our university worked closely with the NCAA enforcement staff to determine all the facts of the situation and then took necessary steps to protect our school.

“This case should stand as a cautionary tale to staff and fans at all NCAA institutions. A booster inserted himself into the recruiting process without prompting, and a staff member failed to engage the university’s compliance staff once the booster’s actions became obvious. NCAA rules necessitate recruiting be conducted by coaches and staff, who in turn have the responsibility to remain vigilant against this type of activity by fans and others. The damage that can be done by even one so-called ‘booster’ ignoring NCAA rules, or staff members who fail to report such actions, can be catastrophic.”

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