Boise State University had its "day in court" on Friday. University officials and coaches spent some 13 hours with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in a session closed to both the public and the press. University officials had no comment after the meeting, but clearly hope that their testimony will convince the committee not to impose penalties stiffer than BSU has already imposed on itself.
The problems for BSU began a couple of years ago when a former employee blew the whistle alleging that the university had knowingly violating NCAA rules and refused to heed her repeated warnings over several years. An investigation followed with the NCAA finding numerous minor infractions in several sports and one major infraction in tennis. The university has responded with self imposed sanctions and is hopeful these will satisfy the NCAA.
The infractions are relatively minor and involve improper arrangements for housing, transportation and meals for prospective athletes. Although minor, the concern is that the improprieties spanned multiple sports including tennis, track, and football. It is the pervasive nature of the infractions that has raised the feared "lack of institutional control" charge. If the NCAA does find that the university lacked controls, it will likely impose additional penalties, possibly even banning postseason play for one or more seasons.
Whether or not the lack of control charge sticks will depend on four elements that BSU must prove it had in place. These include having a compliance program, making sure there is ongoing compliance eduction, documenting that there is understanding of and compliance with the rules and proactively taking swift and decisive action when they become aware that the rules have been violated.
BSU claims to meet all four elements but the last two seem shaky at best. Several of the coaches admitted publicly that they were unaware of the rules. Further, the whistle-blowing employee alleges that she informed university officials repeatedly over several years who took no action other than to push her out. These last two observations makes it doubtful that BSU can meet the four requirements necessary to prove they had sufficient institutional control.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions will render its findings in six to eight weeks. If they find a "lack of institutional control" existed, it will be a big blow to BSU which has enjoyed an unprecedented run of athletic success, especially with their football program. The impact additional sanctions will have on BSU could be significant. It could be a long fall for the mighty BSU Broncos.
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