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Clemson Details Track and Field Violations

Clemson University released details about the violations which lead to the resignation of track and field director Lawrence Johnson. Clemson is waiting for the NCAA to finish its own investigation, but has argued in its self-report that the violations were secondary.

The violations included:

  • Allowing a student-athlete who had exhausted his eligibility to compete in five meets during the 2012 indoor season;
  • An athlete receiving training funds from Johnson for the 2012 Olympic Trials;
  • An athlete receiving a pair of shoes from a volunteer assistant;
  • A charge of “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance” against Johnson as a result of the above violations.

It is one of the more serious packages of secondary violations you will find, but especially in track and field, none of the violations are surprising:

  • Track and field must track eligibility across two, sometimes three sports (cross country, indoor, outdoor) so a mixup when an athlete redshirts during one of the seasons but not another can happen;
  • The NCAA recently deregulated Olympic training expenses. Starting next year, Clemson could pay for its athletes to compete in an unlimited number of Olympic trials; and
  • Clemson could have given the athlete as many shoes as it wanted, so the problem was the source of the benefit, not the benefit itself. Volunteer coaches are also often new college coaches, unfamiliar with the rules.

That’s not to excuse the violations, but to explain how all of them are either minor or could easily happen without a program going rouge. The head coach losing his or her job over this package of violations seems harsh unless something else was going on as well.

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