Return to Bylaw Blog

UW, USC Investigating Allegations Against Washington FB Assistant

Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times:

Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Tosh Lupoi, Washington’s defensive line coach, gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for [Andrew] Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.

If proven, this would be in violation of NCAA Bylaw 13.15.1:

An institution or a representative of its athletics interests shall not offer, provide or arrange financial assistance, directly or indirectly, to pay (in whole or in part) the costs of the prospective student-athlete’s educational or other expenses for any period prior to his or her enrollment or so the prospective student-athlete can obtain a postgraduate education.

That raises three questions: can the NCAA prove the violations and what does it mean for Steve Sarkisian, who was the Washington football head coach at the time and was recently hired by the University of Southern California. Also, what happens with Washington and the new enforcement program. As for the first question, this helps the NCAA a lot:

[Davis] also said he contacted the NCAA and then phoned Lupoi to inform him of The Times’ inquiry.

For Sarkisian, these violations would fall under the new head coach responsibility bylaws. Proposal 2012–15 was adopted with immediate effect by the Board of Directors on October 30, 2012. The payments are alleged to have occurred on or about February 25 and May 18, 2013. That means Sarkisian’s responsibility will be judged under the new bylaw which presumes he is responsible for any violation committed by his assistants. He can rebut that presumption by showing that he adequately monitored the activities of his assistants and promoted an atmosphere of compliance. While the NCAA had issued best practice documents about what that entails, no case has established what the Committee on Infractions says is enough to rebut the presumption of responsibility.

For Washington, the allegations will be processed under the new enforcement program. Any violations will be classified under the new four-tier violation structure. Any sanctions would also be based on the new penalty structure since the alleged conduct all occurred after October 30, 2012, when Proposal 2012–16 (which established the new enforcement program) was adopted.

[Update: 12/19/13] While it is too early to talk about potential penalties for Washington, what Sarkisian could face is much clearer. The NCAA’s document on head coach responsibility has this Q&A about penalties:

If the NCAA enforcement staff alleges that a head coach violated Bylaw as a result of his/her involvement in a major/Level I or II violation(s), what could happen?

Pursuant to Bylaw, a head coach is presumed responsible for major/Level I and Level II violations (e.g., academic fraud, recruiting inducements) occurring within his or her program unless the coach can show that he or she promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored his or her staff. After August 1, 2013, if the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions finds that a head coach violated Bylaw, he or she may be suspended, pursuant to a show-cause order, for up to an entire season for Level I violations and up to half of a season for Level II violations. The length of the suspension will depend on the severity of the violation(s) committed by his or her staff and/or the coach himself/herself.

Those penalties come from the NCAA’s new penalty matrix and are based on the level of the violation as well the existence of any aggravating or mitigating factors. The maximums mentioned above are for those levels of violations with aggravating factors. Without aggravation, a head coach can be suspended between 30% and 50% of the season for a Level I violation and from no suspension to 30% of a season for a Level II violation. That suspension could be part of a show-cause order of 1-2 years for a standard Level II violation and 2-5 years for a standard Level I violation. Even if the violation is classified as a Level III, the head coach can face a suspension in football for this type of violation.

Are you ready for the NEXT STEP!