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RESPONSE TO APPEAL OF INFRACTIONS DECISION NO.

487

by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions

to the

NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee

April 11,2018

University of Mississippi

Case No. 00561

Confidential
Pursuant to the appeal initiated by the University of Mississippi under NCAA Bylaw 19.10
(2017-18 Division I Manual), the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions submits this
response to the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee for consideration.

This response is organized as follows:

COUNTER-STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

ORIGINS OF THE CASE

ARGUMENT

RELIEF SOUGHT/CONCLUSION
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Response to Appeal by University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561

Counter-statement of the issues 1

Introduction and summary of argument 2

Origins of the case 5

Argument 13

Relief sought/conclusion 30
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.1

COUNTER-STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES

I. The COl's factual finding and conclusion that a booster of the institution provided free
apparel and merchandise to prospects, their families and/or their acquaintances is not
clearly contrary to the information in the record when three individuals who were
unacquainted visited the booster's retail store at different times and store employees
provided them and/or friends and family with items free-of-charge.

II. The COl's factual finding and conclusion that the institution lacked control over the
football program's recruiting processes and booster activities is not clearly contrary to
the information in the record when the culture of the football program emboldened
multiple members of the football staff and multiple boosters to engage in knowing
violations of NCAA recruiting and benefits legislation.

III. The panel did not abuse its discretion in prescribing the second year of a postseason
ban for serious, intentional and numerous violations committed and/or orchestrated by
institutional staff members and boosters for years in its football program, including
academic fraud, impermissible contacts, impermissible inducements and impermissible
benefits.

IV. The panel did not abuse its discretion when it prescribed a limit on the number of
unofficial visits prospects may make to the institution during the term of probation
when multiple violations occurred while prospects were on visits.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.2

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions (COl) submits this response to the

appeal by the University of Mississippi from Decision No. 487. 1 The events in this case are

antithetical to college athletics. No fewer than six members of the institution's football staff and

12 representatives of the institution's athletics interests (boosters) engaged in widespread Level I,

Level II and Level III violations over multiple years. Among the most severe violations, the

football staff members orchestrated a scheme of academic fraud for prospects, committed

numerous recruiting violations and arranged relationships that resulted in boosters providing

substantial impermissible inducements and benefits to prospective and enrolled student-athletes.

On appeal, Mississippi challenges two of the violations and two of its penalties. It makes

four flawed arguments: (1) the panel's conclusion that a local retail store owner provided free

merchandise to prospects was clearly contrary to the evidence and the result of procedural errors;

(2) the panel's conclusion that the institution lacked control over aspects of its athletics program

was clearly contrary to the evidence; (3) the panel abused its discretion in prescribing a second

year of postseason ban for the violations; and (4) the panel abused its discretion by limiting each

prospect to one unofficial visit per year of probation. Mississippi's arguments are unpersuasive

because the panel appropriately concluded that the violations occurred based on all the

information in the case, and it prescribed the penalties based on the facts of the case and the

scope and breadth of the severe violations. Recognizing that each case is unique, the

conclusions of violations and penalties meet the standards under the bylaws and are appropriate.

I Although cases are now heard by panels of the COl. a panel's decision is the decision of the full COL See Bylaw 19.3.3.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.3

Nothing in the COl's past cases or this Committee's considerations for when violations occur and

penalties are most appropriate requires a different conclusion. In challenging the two violations

and scope of the two penalties, Mississippi ignores and attempts to second guess legislated

standards. Its arguments fail.

Regarding the retail store violations, the panel considered accounts from three

individuals (two of whom were football prospects) who did not know each other at the times

they visited the retail store. Mississippi challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and claims

the COl engaged in procedural error. However, each of the three independently explained that

football staff members referred them to the retail store, where they were allowed to leave with

free merchandise and/or apparel. The panel assessed them to be credible, notwithstanding some

inconsistencies in their accounts and the denials of the staff members and booster involved.

Further, the COl did not engage in procedural errors that would have changed the panel's

conclusion that this violation occurred.

Regarding the lack of institutional control, the panel noted the scope of these

violations-six football staff members and 12 boosters knowingly committed multiple recruiting

and benefit violations over five years. Mississippi asserts the evidence established that it

exercised control over the football program. Further, and without citing to any bylaws, the

institution asserts that the panel committed a procedural error precluding the finding of a

violation. The nature, scope and breath of the violations demonstrated that Mississippi has failed

to exercise control over its football recruiting process and the behavior of its boosters. Further,

the panel did not commit procedural errors in coming to its conclusion.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.4

With respect to penalties, this is a Level I-Standard case. According to the Figure 19-1

Penalty Guidelines, the penalty range for postseason bans in Level I-Standard cases is 1-2 years.

This case involved numerous severe violations committed by multiple staff members and

boosters over a period of several years. The institution is appealing the second year of a

postseason ban for the football team. A two-year postseason ban is warranted.

The panel also properly restricted unofficial visits to one per prospect per year. Bylaw

19.9.7-(1) authorizes panels to prescribe penalties appropriate to the violations. The facts of this

case demonstrated Mississippi's failure to control the unofficial visit process. Many violations

occurred when prospects made multiple unofficial visits. Included among those violations was

the football staff and/or boosters providing impermissible inducements/benefits and falsifying

visit paperwork. Mississippi is mistaken that this penalty is precluded by the Figure 19-1

Penalty Guidelines. For football, the guidelines allow panels to reduce all unofficial visits for

specified periods. But the panel did not prescribe the visit limitations in this case using the

guidelines. Instead, it appropriately limited visits to one per prospect per year.

In sum, none of Mississippi's claims have merit. The violations are supported by

information in the record, and the panel did not commit procedural errors. The penalties are

authorized by the bylaws and appropriate for the severe violations committed in the case.

Mississippi does not establish a basis under Bylaw 19.10.1.2 for reversing the violations or a

basis under Bylaw 19.10.1.1 for reversing the penalties. This Committee should affirm the

violations and penalties.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.5

ORIGINS OF THE CASE

Case History

The case began in 2012, when the conference office notified the institution of potential

violations in the women's basketball program. Mississippi began an investigation and notified

the NCAA enforcement staff, which issued a notice of inquiry on October 17, 2012. The

investigation continued for three years, eventually expanding to include women's track and field

and football. On January 22, 2016, the enforcement staff issued a notice of allegations regarding

all three sports programs.

On May 9, 2016, Mississippi requested that the case be postponed or, in the alternative,

that the panel bifurcate the football allegations. On June 2, 2016, following a conference call

with all parties, the chief hearing officer bifurcated the case. The panel heard the non-football

allegations in July 2016 and issued a decision on that part of the case in October 2016.

Regarding the pending football allegations, the investigation progressed, and the COl

vice chair granted limited immunity to six student-athletes. On February 22, 2017, the

enforcement staff issued a final notice of allegations to the institution and seven involved

individuals. In May, July and August 2017, various parties raised numerous procedural issues,

which were addressed by the chief hearing officer. A panel of the COl conducted an in-person

hearing on September 11-12, 2017. Due to the numerous procedural issues that were raised, the

panel requested a student-athlete at another institution, student-athlete 1, to attend and participate

in the hearing. 2 He attended the entire two-day hearing and answered the panel's questions. The

2 All references in this brief to student-athletes, boosters, staff members and other individuals are consistent with the references
to those same individuals in the public infractions decision.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.6

panel issued its infractions decision on December 1, 2017, and the institution filed a timely

appeal.

Factual Statement

The violations that led to this case began in the spring and summer of 2010. Two

football staff members orchestrated a scheme to attain fraudulent standardized tests scores for

three prospects who had committed to play football at Mississippi but had not yet

achieved qualifying standardized tests scores. The two football staff members directed the

prospects to re-take their standardized tests at a Mississippi location hundreds of miles from their

homes and to leave blank the answers to questions they did not know. The staff members knew

the test supervisor at the location. The test scores for all three prospects increased dramatically.

Two of the three did not complete their tests, but their answer sheets were later found to be filled

in completely. One of the prospects' answer sheets contained multiple erasures and changed

answers? FI6.

Following the standardized test, the two football staff members arranged for the three

prospects to travel to another city. There, at the suggestion of the staff members, the prospects

and three additional prospects who had academic deficiencies resided free-of-charge for part of

the summer with an institutional booster. FI 113. The other three prospects had also committed

to attend Mississippi as football student-athletes. While staying at the home of the booster, the

six prospects completed academic work at a local educational center to bolster their grades. The

3 The answer sheet for the third prospect was unavailable for review, as he stopped cooperating with the investigation.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.7

prospects were transported to the educational center each day by the booster. All six prospects

eventually enrolled at Mississippi.

In 2013, the NCAA enforcement staff began investigating the 2010 standardized tests.

By this time, one of the football staff members involved in arranging the 2010 test re-takes was

employed at another NCAA institution. On instructions of the enforcement staff, institutional

personnel informed the football staff member no fewer than four times to keep the matter

confidential. Despite the admonitions, the football staff member made phone calls and sent text

messages to others involved in the 2010 incidents, including other football staff members, the

Mississippi compliance officer and a parent of one of the prospects who had retaken the

standardized test. When the enforcement staff interviewed the two football staff members about

the 2010 standardized test re-takes, both of them denied telling prospects not to answer questions

or that any test fraud occurred.

After the head coach arrived at Mississippi for the 2012-13 academic year, boosters

continued their involvement with football prospects. From October 2012 into March 2013, a

booster transported four prospects (and, at times, members of their families) to campus for

official and unofficial visits on multiple occasions. The booster paid for the prospects'

transportation, meals and lodging, expending over $2,000 through the academic year. The

booster also paid cell phone bills for two of the prospects, provided "tutoring services" for the

prospects, provided food when the head football coach and an assistant coach made a home visit

to one of the prospects, and transported two of the prospects over 400 miles to the institution's

football bowl game. While at the bowl game site, the prospects met the head coach and an
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.8

assistant coach, and another football staff member allowed the prospects to attend a defensive

team meeting. No football staff members logged the contacts into the Mississippi recruiting

monitoring system.

The football staff was aware that this booster was interacting with the prospects and

bringing them to campus. One assistant football coach made his own incorrect determination

that the booster's relationship and interactions with the prospects were allowable. The head

coach accepted his assistant's conclusion, and neither of them asked the compliance office for

confirmation. The booster usually contacted an assistant coach to inform him when he was

bringing prospects to campus, and on one visit weekend the booster joined two prospects and

one prospect's mother for a meal at the head coach's home. On another occasion the booster

hosted a visit between an assistant football coach and three prospects at his home. On at least

two of these visit weekends, the football staff did not log contacts with the prospects into the

institutional recruiting monitoring system. The football staff also used the booster to set up

meetings between members of the football coaching staff and prospects.

The football staff also failed to consult the compliance office on other occasions. On

three weekends in January 2013, the football program inappropriately produced videos of

prospects wearing institutional gear. The head coach approved the productions. He told his staff

to contact the compliance office but no one did, even though the compliance office had advised

against such productions twice in 2012. Also in January 2013, and without consulting

compliance, the football staff arranged for a prospect to have access to a booster's private

hunting land while visiting campus. In the summer of 2013, assistant football coach 4 allowed
NCAA VlvlslOn 1 CommIttee on lntractlOns
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No.9

student-athlete 13, a prospect at the time, to stay overnight in his home twice. He did not report

the violations.

Student-athlete 13 was one of two prospects in this case who was at the center of many

violations. A highly recruited prospect, he visited the institution officially in January 2013

accompanied by five others, including his mother, her boyfriend and a half-brother. Assistant

coach 4 provided inaccurate information about student-athlete 13's family relationships to the

football recruiting staff, resulting in the institution paying costs for individuals it should not

have. Assistant coach 4 also referred student-athlete 13's party to a local retail store which

specializes in selling Mississippi apparel and merchandise. The party visited the retail store on

both days of the official visit. The booster who owns the retail store allowed student-athlete 13

and the rest of his party to select, free-of-charge, up to $400 worth of apparel and merchandise.

The group selected hats, shirts, jerseys and other items. FIs 184; 188. Student-athlete 13

eventually enrolled and competed at Mississippi.

After student-athlete 13's enrollment, boosters remained involved with him and his

family members. Assistant coach 4 helped the family members become acquainted with at least

one of those boosters. In 2013 and 2014, a booster who owned hotels and rental properties

allowed student-athlete 13's family members to stay in the properties at no charge on at least 10

nights. FI 190. In 2014, a booster gave student-athlete 13's mother's boyfriend $800 cash. In

2014 and 2015, a booster who owned an automobile dealership allowed student-athlete 13 to

drive "loaner" vehicles free-of-charge on two occasions for as long as three months. 4 FIs 190;

4 Another student-athlete also used a free "loaner" for a month.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No. 10

191. That booster and his dealership also gave student-athlete 13 a deferred loan, contrary to its

standard practice.

The other prospect at the center of numerous violations was student-athlete 1, who

attended the hearing. Like student-athlete 13, student-athlete 1 was coveted and highly-

regarded. Mississippi recruited him during the 2013-14 academic year. The head coach began

the institution's recruitment by contacting student-athlete 1 during an evaluation period, but it

was the assistant athletic director for football, Barney Farrar, who was most involved with him.

Farrar maintained close telephone and in-person contact with student-athlete 1, arranged for him

to visit campus unofficially but cost-free, and coordinated his introduction to boosters.

Student-athlete 1 made seven unofficial visits to Mississippi. s He was accompanied by

his parents the first time and they paid their own expenses. He made the other visits with friends

and/or cousins his own age. Before those later trips, student-athlete 1 contacted Farrar to tell

him he would be visiting. On those occasions, student-athlete 1 and his companions stayed cost-

free in local hotels through arrangements that were either directly or indirectly made by Farrar.

On some occasions, Farrar arranged directly for boosters to transport student-athlete 1. At other

times, Farrar knew boosters were transporting him to and from campus.

Student-athlete 1 and his companions also enjoyed free meals on the unofficial visits. At

times, they would eat on campus. On some occasions, they frequented a local bar/restaurant

establishment owned and operated by an institutional booster. 6 Student-athlete 1 originally met

5 He also made an official visit in January 2015 and attended two football camps at Mississippi.

6 This booster was designated as booster 5 in the infractions decision.
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No. 11

this booster at the football facility during one of his campus visits. Thereafter, when student-

athlete 1 visited, he and his companions patronized the booster's establishment, where they were

treated to free food and/or drinks. A couple of times, the booster "slipped" student-athlete 1

amounts of cash. When the booster wasn't in the establishment, a bartender provided the group

with food and drink. Farrar and this booster knew each other and had phone contact during the

timeframe Mississippi was recruiting student-athlete 1.

Farrar also referred student-athlete 1 to the retail store, where he obtained merchandise

free-of-charge. After student-athlete 1 said he would like to have some Mississippi athletic gear,

Farrar said he could "hook him up" for approximately $400 of free items. Farrar told student-

athlete 1 to go to the retail store, whose owner Farrar had regular contact with. At the store,

student-athlete 1 picked out 7-8 items and took them to the cashier, who allowed him to leave

without paying for the merchandise. FI 232 at 12-16; FI 265 at 83-88. Student-athlete 1 stated

that the cashier removed "something off the clothing" and used some kind of card during the

transaction before he left. Hearing Tr. at 269-271 (Sept. 11, 2017).

Farrar also referred another prospect, student-athlete 15, to the retail store. Student-

athlete 15 also obtained free apparel from the store. Student-athlete 15 made seven unofficial

visits to Mississippi, accompanied by his high school coach on approximately four of the

occasions. Farrar, who was heavily involved in student-athlete IS's recruitment, told him to go

to the retail store and ask for a particular female. He did so on what he estimated were four

occasions. Each time, he obtained approximately $500 of cost-free merchandise. FI 225.

Student-athlete IS's mother later videotaped some of the items her son obtained, along with a
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No. 12

business card from the daughter of the store's owner (who also worked there) containing her

phone number hand-written on the back.

The owners of the bar/restaurant and the retail store were not the only boosters student-

athlete 1 encountered while Mississippi was recruiting him. In March 2014, while on his first

visit to the institution, student-athlete 1 told Farrar that he wanted to be paid for his commitment.

That same weekend, Farrar had his first known phone conversation with booster 10. A day later,

student-athlete 1 received a phone call from booster 9, an employee of booster 10, beginning a

six-month period in which booster 9 and student-athlete 1 exchanged 78 calls and text messages.

Booster 9 was also in regular contact with Farrar during this time, often in regard to student-

athlete 1. From that point through national signing day in February 2015, boosters 9 and 10

provided numerous cash payments to student-athlete 1 that totaled between $13,000 and

$15,600. Booster 9 delivered anywhere from $500 to $800 to him on six or seven occasions and,

on February 3, 2015, booster 10 personally delivered a $10,000 cash payment on the eve of

national signing day. Student-athlete 1 had previously publicly committed to attend Mississippi,

but he was wavering as signing day approached. When he signed with another institution after

booster 10 paid him, booster 10 sent him and Farrar a text message stating that student-athlete 1

"owed" him and "swore on your ." Enforcement Written Reply at 84. Booster 10 asked

student-athlete 1 to call him immediately.

Student-athlete 1 spent some of the money for a down payment on a vehicle and a

deposit for his family's residence. He also purchased clothes and jewelry and later made a video
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11, 2018
Page No. 13

of himself with some of his new clothes and cash. He stated that the cash was from the payment

he received from booster 10. FI 284, Interview Tr. at 15- 20 (Dec. 13,2016).

ARGUMENT

I. The COl's factual finding and conclusion that a booster of the institution provided
free apparel and merchandise to prospective student-athletes, their families and/or
their acquaintances is not clearly contrary to the information in the record when
three individuals who were unacquainted visited the booster's retail store at
different times and store employees provided them and/or friends and family with
items free-of-charge.

The panel concluded that student-athletes 1 and 15, along with student-athlete 13 and his

family, received apparel and merchandise free-of-charge at a local retail store that specializes in

institutional items. The panel's conclusion was not clearly contrary to the information in the

record, and the panel did not commit any procedural errors that, but for the errors, would have

resulted in the panel coming to different conclusions. Therefore, the conclusion that violations

occurred cannot be set aside.

A. Standard of Review

NCAA Bylaw 19.10.1.2 establishes the standard of review for findings and conclusions

regarding whether violations occurred:

A hearing panel's factual finding and its conclusion that one or more violations occurred

shall not be set aside on appeal except for a showing by the appealing party that:

(a) A factual finding is clearly contrary to the information presented to the panel; ...
or ...
(c)There was a procedural error and but for the error, the panel would not have made the
finding or conclusion.
Page No. 14

This Committee has concluded that the existence of informatjon in the record that could

support another result, and the existence of other information that might outweigh the

informatjon relied upon, are insufficient to meet the "clearly contrary" standard. University of

Mississippi, LAC Report at 8 (1995). This Committee has made it clear that it does not conduct a

de novo hearing. University of Mississippi at 8. Nor will it consider information not in the

infractions record, absent unusual circumstances. Mississippi at 8. This Committee has also

concluded that reversal is warranted only "upon a showing that information that might have

supported a contrary result clearly outweighed the information upon which the Committee on

Infractions based [the factual findings and violation]." Mississippi at 8.

B. Analysis

The issue of whether the retail store, and the booster who runs it, provided free

merchandise to prospects and/or their farnily and friends rests on an examination of the entire

record, including credibility determinations that are the resjX)nsibility of the COl. Regarding this

violation, the panel considered the statements of three independent individuals and determined

that the violatjons occurred. This Committee has concluded that it is the COl "that is to make

determinations regarding matters such as relevance, credibility and the sufficiency of the

informatjon presented to it." Mississippi at 7.

In this case, three individuals spoke independently of going to the retail store for free

items of apparel and merchandise. The first was the boyfriend of student-athlete 13's mother,

who accompanied student-athlete 13, his mother and other family members on student-athlete

13's initial campus visit. Assistant coach 4, student-athlete 13's primary recruiter, steered the
Page No. 15

group to the retail store and told them to ask for the booster who owns the store. 7 When the

group arrived, the booster stated that he had already spoken with assistant coach 4 and instructed

his employees to allow the group to select, free-of-charge, up to $400 worth of merchandise. In

visits to the store on two consecutjve days, the group selected a number of items that they did not

have to pay for. Infractions Decision at 12.

Mississippi correctly points out that other members of student-athlete 13's party denied

receiving free merchandise, necessitating that the panel weigh the information to assess

credibility. This is a critical function of panels. See University of Southern Mississippi (2016)

(concluding that a head coach's denial of orchestrating a scheme of academic fraud were not

credible when considering the information supporting his involvement); University of Louisiana

at Lafayette (2016) (concluding that an assistant coach's denials that a booster was making

recruiting calls were not credible). That another party might reach a different conclusion is not

enough to set aside a conclusion of a COl panel. For example, while student-athlete 13's mother

denied receiving any free merchandise, her credibility was in question. She denied being

referred by assistant coach 4 to the retail store for free merchandise, stating that the group found

the store on their own. See FI 197, Interview Tr. at 41 (Aug. 6,2015). However, even assistant

coach 4 admitted that he referred the party to the retail store. Hearing Tr. at 257-258 (Sept. II,

2017).

Further, student-athlete 13's mother's boyfriend spoke of other violations that Mississippi

boosters committed. He told the enforcement staff that a booster gave him $800 cash and that

7 This booster is designated as booster 5 in the infractions decision.
Page No. 16

another booster allowed him and student-athlete 13's mother to spend multiple free nights in

motels/rental properties at no charge. His assertions were proven correct. These and other

violations showed a propensity for boosters to provide impennissible inducements and benefits

to student-athlete 13 and his family and bolstered the boyfriend's credibility on this issue. Also

crucial was the fact that two other individuals-neither of whom the boyfriend knew-also

spoke of Mississippi football staff members referring them to the retail store, where they too

received free merchandise.

The second individual who received free merchandise from the retail store was student-

athlete I. When student-athlete I told Farrar, his primary recruiter, that he would like some

institutional gear, Farrar referred him to the retail store. There he selected certain items worth

approximately $400 and took them to a cashier, who removed "something off the clothing."

Hearing Tr. at 269-271 (Sept. 11,2017). That he could not recall who he went to the store with,

what exactly the cashier did with some kind of "card" during the transaction and on which

campus trip he visited the store was considered by the panel. Like student-athlete 13, student-

athlete I was a highly sought-after prospect. Boosters provided him with thousands of dollars in

cash, transportation, food and drinks, and institutional personnel arranged for him to stay free-of-

charge in local hotels on multiple visits to campus.s Although student-athlete I could not recall

certain specific facts of his trip to the retail store, he never wavered in his statements that he left

the store with items he did not have to pay for. The panel found him credible.

8 Notably. Mississippi does nOI challenge any of lhe olher violations. including studenl-athlete l's stalement lhal boosler 10
provided him a $10,000 cash payment.
Page No. 17

The third individual who received free merchandise on trips to the retail store was

another highly sought-after prospect, student-athlete 15. He, student-athlete 13's mother's

boyfriend and student-athlete I were not acquainted at the times they provided information on

their trips to the retail store. Similar to student-athlete I, student-athlete 15 was referred to the

store by Farrar, whom he specifically named as one of his recruiters. 9 On approximately four of

the seven visits he made to Mississippi, he went to the retail store and, as instructed by Farrar,

asked for an employee named Emily. That employee allowed him to leave the store on each

occasion with approximately $500 in free gear. Student-athlete IS's mother later produced a

video in which she displayed some of the gear from the retail store as well as the business card

of the booster's daughter, who worked at the store. Hearing Tr. at 260-263 (Sept. 11,2017).

Farrar was in regular contact with both the booster and his daughter during student-athlete I's

and student-athlete IS's recruitment.

The panel considered that a high school coach who accompanied student-athlete 15 on

some of his visits never saw him with large amounts of merchandise. It considered the booster's

claims that store records do not reflect the transactions the boyfriend, student-athlete I and

student-athlete 15 described and that the store supposedly never had an employee named

"Emily." The panel also considered that other prospects said they never got free gear at the retail

store. The panel found student-athlete 15 credible. Hearing Tr. at 245-247 (Sept. 11,2017).

Mississippi asserts that the panel erred in finding that student-athletes I and 15 did not

know each other at the tjme they spoke to investigators about the retail store. Infractions

9 Student-athlete 15 stated that both assistant coach 4 and Farrar visited him at his home. Assistant coach 4 coached the position
student-athlete 15 plays.
Page No. 18

Decision at 34. Mississippi is wrong. Student-athlete 15 was interviewed in February 2016,

while student-athlete I's interviews took place in August, November and December of the same

year. During the 2015-16 academic year, student-athlete I was a freshman in college while

student-athlete 15 was a high school senior. The institution points out that student-athlete I said

he met student-athlete 15 during his "first summer" at their current institution. Hearing Tr. at

232 (Sept. 11,2017). What Mississippi ignores is that student-athlete I also stated he did not

know student-athlete 15 before they became teammates in college. Hearing Tr. at 232 (Sept. II,

2017). They were not teammates until the fall of 2016, six months after student-athlete IS's

interview. Nothing in student-athlete IS's interview indicates that he knew student-athlete I at

the time he gave his statements about the retail store. The summer of 2016 was student-athlete

I's first summer after his enrollment at his current institution, and it stands to reason that he

would meet an incoming new teammate once practjce began. Student-athlete I gave his initial

statement about going to the retail store on August 10,2016, and also stated that he and student-

athlete 15 never spoke of their recruitment by Mississippi. Hearing Tr. at 232 (Sept. 11,2017).

Student-athletes I and 15 likely met in late August 2016. The record does not establish that the

panel erred in determining that they were unacquainted at the times they gave statements in

interviews regarding the free items they received at the retail store.

Mississippi also asserts that this violation should be set aside because the panel

committed procedural errors. It does not state what bylaws the panel purportedly violated. It

also does not assert that, but for the errors, the panel would not have concluded that this violation

occurred. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.1O.1.2-(c), this standard must be met before a procedural error
Page No. 19

will result in any of the panel's conclusions of violations being set aside by this Committee. The

institution failed to meet this standard.

While Mississippi states that the panel engaged in "many" procedural errors, its argument

can be ooiled down to an assertion that the panel failed to require the enforcement staff to make

student-athlete I available to the institution for questioning. Mississippi does not cite to any

authority that requires the panel to compel a particular individual to interview in an adversarial

context, and for good reason-the COl has no such authority.1O The enforcement staff has

discretion in the investigative stage, and panels may not direct them on how to conduct their

investigations. For example, Bylaw 19.5.1 allows the enforcement staff to refuse to share

informatjon with institutions under investigation if the staff determines nondisclosure is

necessary to protect the integrity of the investigation. Further, per Bylaw 19.5.6.1, the

enforcement staff is not required to allow an institution under investigation to participate in

interviews it conducts away from the institution's campus.

The panel urged the parties to cooperate and provide relevant information consistent with

Bylaw 19.7.7.3. See, e.g., letters of May 2, 2017, May 17,2017, August 2, 2017, and August 25,

2017, from the chief hearing officer to the parties. Further, through Bylaw 19.7.7.5.1, the panel

took the extraordinary step of requiring student-athlete I, a student-athlete at another institution,

to appear at the hearing. There, the panel extensively questioned him regarding the allegations

pertaining to him, providing all hearing participants an opportunity to directly assess his

credibility.

10 The COl's authority and duties are set forth in Bylaw 19.3.6.
Page No. 20

Finally, Mississippi asserts that the panel erred when it did not require the enforcement

staff to divulge information related to its investigation of another member institution,

. That was not error. This hearing was held to determine whether the University

of Mississippi had committed rules violations. The hearing did not involve any other

institutions. And again, the panel has no authority to direct investjgations or instruct the

enforcement staff to present any particular informatjon at the hearing. The panel considered the

informatjon presented. It weighed credibility as required. The panel did not commit any

procedural errors that require setting aside this violation.

II. The COl's conclusion that the institution lacked control over the football program's
recruiting processes and booster activities is not clearly contrary to the information
in the record when the culture of the football program emboldened multiple
members of the football staff and multiple boosters to engage in knowing violations
of NCAA recruiting and benefits legislation over many years.

The information in the record established, and the panel concluded, that the institution

lacked control over the football recruiting process and football boosters and failed to monitor the

"loaner" car program of a local automobile dealer. Due to a culture that fostered rules violations,

multiple institutional staff members and boosters were emboldened to commit violations over

multiple years. The conclusion that Mississippi lacked control over these aspects of its athletics

program is not clearly contrary to the information in the record. Therefore, this Committee

cannot set aside the violatjon.

A. Standard of Review

The standard of review is set forth in 1. above.
Page No. 21

B. Analysis

This case involved six football staff members and 12 boosters committjng multiple

violations of NCAA legislation from 2010-2015. The violatjons were knowing and brazen.

Among other violations, football staff members arranged for standardized test fraud, falsified

visit paperwork and facilitated meetings with boosters who then provided thousands of dollars'

worth of impermissible inducements and benefits to prospects and enrolled student-athletes. The

impermissible inducements and benefits provided by boosters included lodging, transportation,

food, drinks, "loaner" cars and cash, including one lump sum $10,000 payment to student-athlete

I. Boosters provided many of the impermissible inducements while prospects were on visits to

campus and while the investigation was ongoing.

The violations in this matter demonstrate that the institution failed to establish control of

its football recruiting process and its boosters. The institution is incorrect that a lack of

institutional control conclusion cannot be based, at least in part, on the culture that exists at an

institution. The COl has recognized that "culture" and "environment" can contribute to

violations. See University of Southern California (2010) (concluding that an institution's

violations were at least in part due to a general campus environment that made compliance

efforts difficult); and University of Alabama (2002) (concluding that the institution's past history

and culture of noncompliance among prominent boosters contributed to the violations in the

case).I] The panel acknowledged Mississippi's efforts to control its football staff and boosters.

II The institution claims that the panel "relied" on these two cases to suppoJ1the violation. Appeal Br. at 30-31. Mississippi is

wrong. The panel did not make a factual comparison when citing these cases and did not rely on them as factually similar.
Infractions Decision at 50. Instead, the panel was simply emphasizing that this was the third case involving serious violations by
boosters.
Page No. 22

See e.g., Infractions Decision, Appendix One. However, those efforts failed. Mississippi lacked

control over its football recruiting process and football boosters, and the panel did not err in so

concluding.

The panel likewise did not err in concluding that Mississippi failed to monitor student-

athletes' use of "loaner" cars from a local automobile dealership. The dealership allowed two

student-athletes to retain cars, free-of-charge, for months in violation of its own policies and

NCAA legislation. 12 Mississippi had a process in place for registering student-athlete vehicles,

but that process did not timely detect or put an end to the violations. Starting in August 2014

and continuing through October I, student-athlete 13 received eight parking tickets on campus

while driving a dealership vehicle. 13 He had not registered the vehicle with the compliance

office, so it could not be traced to him. However, once the campus parking services immobilized

the vehicle on October I, student-athlete 13 purchased a parking permit for it, in his name. The

vehicle was ticketed five more times by October 28. There was no system in place for campus

parking services and the compliance office to communicate regarding the tickets.

The compliance office learned that student-athlete 13 was driving the vehicle sometime

in late October 2014. To their credit, at that jX)int compliance personnel required him to return it

to the dealership. When the compliance office asked him about his use of the vehicle, student-

athlete 13 lied and said he had possessed the vehicle for only two weeks. The compliance office

12 The owner of the dealership is designated as booster 12 in the infractions decision.

13 Student-athlete 13 initially drove this vehicle, a Nissan Titan. as a legitimate "loaner" while his vehicle was at the dealership
for repairs. However, student-athlete 13's status as a service customer started on May 6. 2014 and ended on August 11,2014.
From that point through October 28. he possessed and drove the vehicle in violation of NCAA rules.
Page No. 23

did not check further and the system in place did not reveal his earlier tickets. The compliance

office did not correctly determine whether he had possessed the vehicle in a manner consistent

with NCAA legislation.

A little over three months later, on February 16,2015, the dealership gave student-athlete

13 a Chevrolet Tahoe, which he drove until May 11,2015. It too had a dealer license plate and

was ticketed on campus. The dealership then gave him a Nissan Armada that he drove through

June 10,2015. He did not register either vehicle with the compliance office. Student-athlete 13

again lied to the compliance office in both April and May about having a vehicle, claiming he

did not. The institution took him at his word, even though it had granted him over $500 in

special assistance funds in March 2015 to drive out-of-state.

Another student-athlete, student-athlete 16, also drove a dealership vehicle in violation of

NCAA legislatjon without the institution detecting the arrangement. He drove a dealership-

plated vehicle for a month from July 7, 2015, through August 10 in and around campus and

received tickets on the car, which displayed a parking permit registered to him. 14

The compliance office only discovered student-athlete 16's's use of the dealer vehicle on

August 10,2015, when, after student-athlete 13's use of dealer vehicles came to light, it checked

campus for any other vehicles bearing dealership plates.

Although the institution had in place an automobile registration process for student-

athletes, the situatjons of student-athletes 13 and 16 demonstrate that the system was inadequate.

Mississippi failed to adequately monitor its student-athlete automobile registration process,

14 Studenl-athlete 16 also had a personal vehicle in which he displayed his parking permit. BOlh vehicles were tickeled multiple
limes during the summer of 20 15.
page No. L4

contributing to this violation. The panel did not err in including the deficient process among

institutional shortcomings. Infractjons Decision at 20-22; 49-51.

Finally, Mississippi asserts that the panel "improperly and unfairly" referred to other

Levell and II violations that were occurring at Mississippi in other sports at the same tjme as the

football violations as further proof of lack of institutional control. The institution does not cite

any bylaws the panel purportedly violated in doing so, nor does it assert that the reference to

those other violations caused the panel to come to a conclusion it would not have otherwise

made. See Bylaw 19.1O.1.2-(c). It was not error for the panel to take note of the other problems

that were occurring on campus at the same time, which included academic fraud in the women's

basketball program and tampering by women's track coaches with student-athletes at other

institutions. The panel made it clear that the football violations, standing alone, established lack

of institutional control. Infractions Decision at 51. However, the panel appropriately took note

that the problems in the other sports also demonstrate that the institution lacked control of its

athletics program. Moreover, the institution conceded at the hearing that it was appropriate to

consider the women's basketball and track program is assessing whether Mississippi lacked

institutional control. Hearing Tf. at 286 (Sept. 12,2017).

Mississippi states that it "objected" to severance of the football portion of the case from

the women's basketball and track portions. Appeal Bf. at 33-34. That is not accurate. On May

19,2016, the institution requested in a letter that the panel postpone the upcoming July hearing,

which was scheduled to consider the allegations from all three sports. The institution offered as
Page No. 25

an alternative that the panel bifurcate the women's basketball and women's track allegations

from the football allegations, which is exactly what the panel did. Mississippi did not object to

the bifurcation. Also, Mississippi now argues that it should have been credited with another

trutigating factor in the women's basketball and women's track portion of the case. But the

institution did not appeal that point in the former case and is certainly precluded from arguing it

now. The panel did not err in pointing out that, at the same time this institution had problems

controlling its football program, it was also experiencing significant problems controlling

personnel in two other sports.

III.The lAC should affirm Penalty VII3, the postseason ban, and Penalty VIIS, the
limit on unofficial visits, where the penalties are based on the institution's Level 1-
Standard violations, which included academic fraud, impermissible contacts,
impermissible inducements, impermissible benefits and lack of institutional control.

Mississippi cannot meet any of the standards established by the NCAA membership for

this Committee to grant relief. In light of the severe, numerous and intentional violations, and

considering the Bylaw 19 penalty structure, the penalties are appropriate.

A. Standard of review

Bylaw 19.10.1.1 establishes a deferential standard for reviewing penalties on appeal:

A penalty prescribed by the hearing panel, including detenrunations regarding the
weighing of any aggravating or mitigating factors, shall not be set aside on appeal
except for a showing by the appealing party that the panel abused its discretion.
The Infractjons Appeals Committee may affirm a penalty for any reason in the
record.

Prior to the implementation of the new penalty structure, this Comtruttee appropriately

deferred to the COl and its authority to prescribe appropriate penalties. This Committee has also

noted the imjX)rtance of viewing the full range of the violations at issue: "The Infractions
Page No. 26

Appeals Committee continues to note that the Comrnittee on Infractions has significant

discretion in their ability to fashion appropriate penalties for the overall infractions at issue in

any partjcular case." Head Men's Basketball Coach, St. Mary's ColJege of California, lAC

Report No. 381 at 6 (2013) (emphasis added). With respect to penalties prescribed within the

penalty matrix, this Committee has indicated that it is hesitant to find any penalty to be an abuse

of discretion absent a clear arbitrary imposition in light of consistent prior application to the

contrary. Southern Methodist University, lAC Report No. 425 (2016).

Since the implementation of the new penalty guidelines, this Committee has concluded

that the penalties prescribed in previous cases under the fonner penalty structure are not

infonnatjve in demonstrating an abuse of discretion. "[T]he argument that the application of the

current penalty structure is not consistent with application of [a penalty] under the previous

structure is misplaced in determining a current abuse of discretion." Former Head Men's Golf

Coach, SOllthern Methodist University, lAC Report No. 425 at 4 (2016).

B. Analysis

The panel did not abuse its discretion by prescribing a two-year postseason ban for the

football program and limiting the number of unofficial visits football prospects may make to

campus. The second year of the postseason ban falls squarely within the penalty guidelines. It

and the unofficial visit limits are justified by the facts of the case. This Committee should affirm

the penalties.

Regarding the second year of the postseason ban, Figure 19-1 establishes the

membership's expectation for core penalty ranges. In establishing core penalties in Bylaws
Page No. 27

19.9.2 and 19.9.5, the membership determined that each case should address core penalties, one

of which is a postseason ban. For a Level I-Standard case, the postseason ban range is 1-2 years.

In this case, Mississippi self-imposed a one-year ban. The question when determining

whether the panel abused its discretion in adding a second year to the ban turns on two

considerations: (I) whether the bylaws authorize the penalty; and (2) whether a basis exists for

prescribing it. There can be no dispute that the bylaws authorize the penalty.

As to whether a basis for prescribing the penalty exists, this case includes multiple Level

violations over five years involving six staff members and 12 boosters. From 2010-15,

members of the football staff and football boosters engaged in multjple, intentional, severe

violations. The staff members were often instrumental in putting the boosters into position to

commit the violations, and at times were aware of the boosters' violations. Football staff

members arranged for andlor provided standardized test fraud, impermissible transportation,

meals and lodging. They made impermissible recruiting contacts. One allowed a student-athlete

to stay at his house. They failed to consult the compliance office before taking certain actions or

when observing certain actions, resulting in further or contjnuing violatjons. They falsified visit

paperwork. IS Members of the football staff also introduced andlor referred prospects to boosters

who provided thousands of dollars' worth of merchandise, meals, transportation, lodging and

cash payments to multiple prospects, their friends andlor their families. The head football coach

failed to monitor, and the institution lacked control over, the football program. The panel's

prescription of a two-year postseason ban for the football program was clearly within the penalty

IS In addition to the falsified paperwork. no papeIWork existed in student-athlete l's institutional recruiting file for two of his
visits. The investigation was unsuccessful in revealing who falsified the paperwork.
Page No. 28

guidelines and not an abuse of discretion. This case involves more violations committed by

more individuals than cases in which panels adopted or prescribed one-year bans. See University

of Louisville (2017) (concluding that a one-year postseason ban was appropriate when one staff

member arranged acts of prostitution for prospects over approximately three years); Morgan

State University (2017) (concluding that a one-year postseason ban was appropriate for three

sports in which multiple student-athletes competed while ineligible due to certification errors);

Lamar University (2016) (concluding that a one-year postseason ban was appropriate when a

coach arranged or provided approximately $15,000 in impennissible benefits to three student-

athletes).16 A two-year ban is appropriate when six staff members and 12 boosters committed

knowing severe and multiple violations over a period of years and those violations mirrored

violations in previous institutional cases.

Mississippi asserts that the 1986 and 1994 cases should not have been accorded weight as

aggravating factors pursuant to Bylaw 19.9.3-(b) due to the passage of time. However, the

institution in making the argument ignores Bylaw 19.9.3-(b)-(2), which authorizes panels to

consider the similarity, severity and types of violations involved in an offending institution's

previous cases. The three cases are similar, severe and include the exact same types of

violations. The panel properly gave significant weight to Mississippi's history of violations.

Neither was the limitation on unofficial visits an abuse of discretjon. Many violations

occurred when student-athletes I and 15 were on unofficial visits to the institution. Other

violations occurred when a booster transported prospects to campus for unofficial visits on

16 Morgan State University has appealed the poslseason ban for two of the three affected sports.
Page No. 29

multiple occasions. Regarding student-athlete I, he called Farrar, the assistant athletic director

for football and his lead recruiter, whenever he wanted to make one of his many unofficial trips

to campus. At times, Farrar directed a booster to transport student-athlete I. Once student-

athlete I arrived on campus, he stayed cost-free in local motels, ate and drank free in a booster's

barlrestaurant or on campus and, on one occasion, obtained free merchandise at the retail store.

At the hearing, Farrar admitted an awareness that boosters were transporting student-athlete I.

He did not report the violations. And after at least one visit, someone falsified visit paperwork

so it appeared that student-athlete I stayed with an enrolled student-athlete in a dormitory rather

than in a hotel.

Likewise, on three or four of his unofficial visits, student-athlete 15 went to the same

retail store and walked out with free merchandise. The panel concluded that this institution was

not in control of its unofficial visit process. Therefore, the panel was justified in placing limits

on that process.

The institution incorrectly asserts that, in prescribing a limit on unofficial visits for each

prospect, the panel exceeded by "six times" any previous recruiting restriction. Appeal Br. at 19.

The institution is mistaken. This is not a penalty prescribed using the core penalty matrix, as

Mississippi claims. The Recruitjng Visit Restrictions "cell" of the matrix calls for a complete

ban on unofficial visits for specified periods. This penalty limits visits. It does not ban them. A

panel of the COl has previously prescribed a similar penalty. See University of Miami (2013)

(concluding that an institution should be limited to providing each prospect visiting unofficially

with one complimentary admission to a home athletics event for two academic years when
NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
Response to University of Mississippi Appeal
University of Mississippi - Case No. 00561
April 11,2018
Page No. 30

numerous violations occurred while prospects visited campus). A similar penalty is appropriate

in this case.

Bylaw 19.9.7-(1) authorizes panels to prescribe penalties it finds appropriate to each case.

Here, Mississippi failed to control its unofficial visit process, leading to significant rules

violations. Many violations occurred during multiple trips to campus by student-athletes I and

15, while other violations occurred when other prospects made visits. To get the visit process

under control, it is appropriate for the panel to limit the number of unofficial visits a prospect

may make to campus. The panel did not abuse its discretion.

RELIEF SOUGHT/CONCLUSION

This Committee should affirm the findings of facts, violations and penalties.

Respectfully submitted by,

NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions
BY: