NCAA puts Chattanooga on 2-year probation for failure to monitor impermissible texts, calls

Friday, September 24, 2010

NCAA finds Chattanooga guilty of major violations

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The NCAA cited Chattanooga with major violations Thursday in its athletics program for failing to monitor phone calls and text messages by coaches to recruits.

The Division I Committee on Infractions released its findings after resolving the probe through a summary disposition that did not involve a hearing in Indianapolis.

Chattanooga will be publicly reprimanded and censured and placed on probation starting Thursday until Sept. 22, 2012, for 137 impermissible texts and 74 phone calls made to 12 recruits or their families mostly in football and basketball, but also women’s basketball and men’s tennis.

The probation penalties do not ban the Mocs from postseason play or from competing on television.

The university already has served most of self-imposed penalties. The men’s basketball coaching staff had been banned from contacting recruits between Nov. 15, 2009 and March 15, the loss of one scholarship and recruiters reduced from three to two after March 15.

Athletics director Rick Hart said Chattanooga’s compliance program has been growing since being started more than four years ago.

“We knew we had some weaknesses and we knew we weren’t fully monitoring our programs. We were trying to get there, and as a part of that, we discovered these violations,” Hart said. “We agree with everything that occurred. It’s unfortunate. It’s been a tough process. We’ve learned from it. It’s a tough way to learn.”

The NCAA said the probation through September 2012 stems from an investigation. The report said the violations were discovered due to the university’s athletic department starting a new telephone monitoring system in August 2008. The university self-reported violations in a letter to the NCAA in January 2009 and self-imposed penalties.

University officials will not appeal, and Hart sent out a letter to fans that also was posted on the school’s website apologizing for bringing negative attention to the university. He said he was glad to finally be able to share the investigation with people and that not being able to discuss it during the NCAA probe was the most difficult part of the process.

“In that regard, it’s good to be able to get it out there and to again own it and be accountable and again learn from it and start to look forward,” he said.

Chattanooga found that an assistant football coach sent 113 impermissible text messages and six unallowed phone calls to five prospective recruits. The assistant also contacted a student enrolled at another school before getting permission from that school.

The men’s basketball program sent 23 text messages and 61 phone calls between 2008 and 2009 to prospective students. Head coach John Shulman sent 19 of the texts and made one of the phone calls. The NCAA committee found Shulman discussed information about the case three different times after being told by university officials not to talk.

The committee found the compliance staff did not compare phone logs were submitted and compared to phone bills. The committee also found Chattanooga did not have access to all the coaches’ cell phone bills.

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