While several Bobcat teams have seen an increase in wins this year, Ohio Athletics officials have reported a decrease in NCAA infractions.
Ohio coaches and support staff have reported seven minor violations of NCAA bylaws during the 2011–12 academic year. The department recorded 16 minor infractions last school year. Ohio remains in the small contingent of NCAA programs that has never been implicated in a major rules violation.
“The athletics compliance department works tirelessly to ensure that Ohio University student-athletes, coaches and staff members understand the rules outlined by the NCAA,” Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Tom Symonds said in a statement.
Of the seven secondary infractions that Ohio officials have reported since August, four are Level I offenses. Level I infractions can limit student-athlete eligibility and are slightly more serious than Level II infractions that rarely bring more than a letter of reprimand or rules education.
Both types of secondary offenses are defined as errors of judgment that yield only a minor edge in recruiting or a non-habitual oversight that violates NCAA rules. Repeated secondary violations can be grouped together as a major violation.
The most serious offense within the last year came back in August, when a men’s cross-country runner competed in a
race before Ohio’s Compliance Office realized that he did not complete amateurism certification. Ohio paid a fine of $3,500 to the NCAA for the infraction. The money for the fine came from the
Ohio Athletics Compliance budget, said Tricia Turley Brandenburg, senior associate athletic director for compliance.
Only the Bobcats’ men’s basketball team had multiple infractions during the 2011–12 school year, and neither of those infractions came at the hands of the coaching staff. The most recent shortfall took place May 4, when Ohio point guard D.J. Cooper and some of his teammates encouraged their Twitter followers to follow Javarez Willis, the Texas Tech guard who has said he will leave to play for Ohio but has not officially joined the team. That means current players and coaches cannot comment about him, including via social media.
“Everybody go follow @BALL_Lif3 he just committed. Show him love tonight!” Cooper said on Twitter in reference to Willis.
The tweets have since been deleted.
Ohio’s football, softball, swimming and diving, and women’s basketball teams also reported minor infractions. The field hockey and volleyball teams reported multiple violations during the 2010–11 academic year but reported no infractions this year.
CHANGING THE SYSTEM?
The two-tier system for categorizing NCAA violations might soon be trashed in favor of a four-tier system that more clearly delineates between classes of infractions.
An NCAA group working on enforcement of institutional policies suggested a change in the current disciplinary hierarchy during the Board of Directors meeting in January. The board’s next meeting is in August, but it is unclear if the new system will be implemented at that time.
Under the new system, Level I infractions would be considered the “most egregious,” while Level II violations would comprise “serious” shortcomings that do not undermine the core values of the NCAA or its member institutions. Level III offenses would be similar to secondary violations under the current system, and Level IV infractions would deal with technical blunders that have a negligible effect on student-athletes.
Though he praised the NCAA’s efforts to keep students as its top priority, Ohio baseball coach Joe Carbone said he’d like to see improved communication between coaches and the organization that governs college sports.
“The NCAA sometimes changes rules, and I don’t think they get enough feedback from people that are on the front lines,” said Carbone, who has not reported any infractions the past two seasons. “They need to get input from coaches and teachers. The way it works right now is they’re just forming committees amongst themselves.”