Georgia Tech Cited for Failure to Cooperate, Fined $100,000

July 14, 2011 by CFP Staff and NCAA

The Georgia Institute of Technology committed violations in its football and men's basketball programs, according to findings by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The university was cited for a lack of cooperation during the investigation, a failure to meet the conditions and obligations of membership, and preferential treatment violations. There were additional violations in the men's basketball program related to rules stemming from a non-scholastic basketball tournament conducted on the university's campus, which the public report further details.

Penalties include a $100,000 fine, recruiting restrictions, vacation of records and four years probation.

Citing the troubling nature of the case, the committee stated in its report, "This case provides a cautionary tale of conduct that member institutions should avoid while under investigation for violations of NCAA rules."

According to the committee, the university's failure to cooperate and meet the obligations of membership compounded the seriousness of the case by adding onto what was originally an isolated instance of impermissible benefits and preferential treatment.

Georgia Tech failed to cooperate and protect the integrity of the investigation when its staff members provided information to a football student-athlete regarding the scope of his upcoming interview, according to the committee findings. The university provided this information despite specific instructions by the enforcement staff, which the committee concluded impeded the investigation and hindered efforts to get to the truth in the case.

The committee noted that due to the NCAA's lack of subpoena power, cooperation from schools and individuals is critical to ensuring complete information can be gathered and analyzed.

The university also failed to meet conditions and obligations of membership when it did not withhold another football student-athlete from competition after being made aware of information that raised serious questions about his eligibility. Specifically, the student-athlete received several items of clothing, valued at approximately $312, from a friend of a sports agency employee. Rather than declaring the student-athlete ineligible, the university allowed him to compete in the three final contests of the 2009-10 football season, including the conference championship game and bowl competition.

"It appeared to the committee that the institution attempted to manipulate the information surrounding potential violations involving (the student-athlete) so there would be enough doubt about its validity to justify the decision not to declare him ineligible," the independent body stated in its report.

The committee also noted the university took these actions despite information reported by the student-athlete, another football student-athlete and an assistant football coach regarding the potential agent involvement in preferential treatment benefits. The university subsequently barred the agency employee, a former student-athlete, from the university's training facilities and denied him access to complimentary tickets to athletic contests.  However, it did not follow up on the information regarding the involvement of the agency employee with the football student-athlete.

When determining the appropriate penalties, the committee took into account the university's repeat violator status. The penalties, some of which were self-imposed by the university and adopted by the committee, include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Four years of probation from July 14, 2011 through July 13, 2015. The public report further details the conditions of this probation.
  • A $100,000 financial penalty.
  • A reduction of two men's basketball recruiting days during the 2011 summer evaluation period (self-imposed by the university).
  • A limit of 10 official visits for men's basketball for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.
  • A vacation of all contests won by the football team during the 2009 season after November 24, which is when the university was alerted to the potential eligibility issues.

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and chair of the Committee on Infractions. Other members are Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., attorney; Thomas Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association; Greg Sankey, associate commissioner of compliance for the Southeastern Conference; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; Melissa Conboy, deputy director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame; James O'Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative for the University of Oregon; and Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA.