Georgia Southern football is going to face minor sanctions beginning in 2016. On Thursday, the NCAA ruled two GSU staff members gave student-athletes "impermissible academic assistance" when the program allowed three football players to submit coursework they had not completed as their own.
The details are the interesting part. Here's what the NCAA said about the program's infractions in its release.
A former assistant compliance director provided a student-athlete with a flash drive containing her previous work for a course in which the student-athlete was enrolled. The student-athlete later pulled an assignment from the flash drive and submitted it as his own work. When the professor discovered the work, the student-athlete and former assistant compliance director worked together to draft responses that stated the student-athlete was solely accountable. During the interview process, after initially denying the involvement of the former assistant compliance director, the student-athlete stated that the staff member provided him with the flash drive and instructed him to tell a false story.
The former assistant director not only violated the NCAA's ethical conduct rules when she provided the student-athlete with impermissible academic assistance and influenced him to provide false and misleading information but also failed to cooperate with the NCAA enforcement staff's investigation.
A former assistant director of student-athlete services also violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she drafted and submitted 10 extra credit assignments on behalf of two football student-athletes. She obtained the student-athletes' login and passwords, and submitted the assignments without the student-athletes' knowledge.
Georgia Southern has only been an FBS member since 2014, but made an immediate splash by winning nine games in each of its two seasons in the NCAA's highest level. The team's immediate future is now in jeopardy thanks to the sanctions that follow from these violations. Here's what the Eagles will have to deal with in 2016 and beyond:
- Public reprimand and censure for the university.
- Two years of probation for the university from July 7, 2016, to July 6, 2018.
- Three-year show-cause orders for the former assistant compliance director and former assistant director of student-athlete services from July 7, 2016, to July 6, 2019. During that time, an NCAA school employing either individual must appear with the individual before a Committee on Infractions panel.
- A vacation of records in which student-athletes participated while ineligible. After the release of the public report, the university will identify the competition affected.
- A reduction of two scholarships for the football program during 2016-17. If the university already has extended the scholarship agreements to prospects for 2016-17, the university may serve the reduction during 2017-18.
- A reduction in the number of official visits for the football program during 2016-17 by 10 percent from the university's four-year average.
- A reduction of fall 2016 football evaluations by 10 percent from its four-year average.
- A $5,000 fine plus an amount equal to 1 percent of the football program's operating budget (self-imposed by the university).