Breaking the rules: NCAA violations
Published: Thursday, April 25, 2013
Updated: Thursday, April 25, 2013 14:04
News of major NCAA violations surrounds high-profile Division I schools, especially after a big-time recruit helps win — or get close to winning — a national championship.
Auburn. Oregon. Ohio State.
All have been in the news for breaking the rules, even if no clear evidence was found one way or the other.
But violating the thousands of rules set forth by the collegiate athletics governing body is inevitable. Rules are broken even when the level of scrutiny is much lower, like it is for the two state schools with FBS DI teams in Utah.
Jake Garlock, compliance director at USU, said violations here and there will occur as part of the job.
“If someone made a clerical error, just kind of slipped up, there’s so many rules out there and the rule book is more than 400 pages long, that someone who is not in the rulebook every day is bound to make a mistake,” Garlock said. “That’s OK. We don’t consider that to be grounds for termination usually.”
From Jan. 1, 2008 to Dec. 31, 2012, the USU Athletics reported 59 NCAA violations that took place at the university, according to reports given to the Utah Statesman by Garlock.
With such a huge number of rules to be followed, there are bound to be violations that weren’t reported.
“A lot of the violations that we get are people self-reporting their mistakes,” Garlock said. “A sign of a healthy compliance program, a sign of institutional control, is several self-reported violations.”
During the same time frame, the University of Utah reported 112 violations, according to reports given to The Utah Statesman by Kate Charipar, compliance director at the university.
The violations from both universities are all secondary violations, which the NCAA defines as “isolated or inadvertent and provide only minimal recruiting, competitive, or other advantages,” according to ncaa.org.
These violations are resolved in-house and are rarely important enough to be made public.
“The NCAA has a standard of institutional control,” Garlock said. “There’s an education component, in that there is a monitoring component. Another part of institutional control is that anyone within athletics or within the university who has knowledge of a violation of NCAA rules is ethically required to report those violations.”
The NCAA states major violations can lead to significant penalties against the school and individuals involved. Neither Utah nor USU reported any major violations.
“I don’t want to jinx myself,” Garlock said. “At this point, my observations have been we have a good culture of compliance at Utah State. We have good leadership, who from the top down instill their values on everyone in the athletic department and everyone associated with athletics.”
In the 2008 and 2009 calendar years, Utah reported a combined 27 violations. In 2010 that number was nearly matched in a single year with 25.
“We did have a very large increase in staff,” Charipar said. “We also started monitoring phone calls in a different way, so a lot of the monitoring mechanisms that we amped up caught some more violations.”
The number reached a peak in 2011 at 29 violations reported at the university. Utah men’s basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak was hired in early 2011, which may explain some of the numbers. “Oftentimes when there’s a coaching staff change, there is an increase in violations,” Charipar said. “If you take a look at the individuals who are hired in the current staff, they were either jumping a level, so they may not be as comfortable with the rules, but also with a brand-new staff working together and also our head coach was coming from the NBA. There was a little bit of a learning curve.”
When compared head-to-head, several conclusions can be drawn about both schools’ compliance behaviors, but it is unrealistic to say one is doing better than the other based solely on raw numbers. Charipar said the NCAA has never set a standard on how many violations in a certain time period need or should be caught and reported.
USU’s highest number of violations in a year was 14 in 2008.
“We don’t have a huge budget at Utah State,” Garlock said. “We’re not in the SEC football nation down there, where it’s more likely for things to go wrong when there’s more on the line.”
Though he said he thinks the compliance office is effective but currently understaffed, Garlock said another person will be hired soon to help USU transition to the Mountain West Conference, where there is going to be more on the line.