Have you been wondering why the cheating scandal at FSU was handled so much differently than the one at UNC is being handled? Why was the NCAA involved in establishing penalties for one school and not the other?
Well I have been wondering about this and nothing that I read made any sense. But the lights finally went on during a discussion with Tar Heel Fan on his blog along with a separate conversation with WV Wolf.
Let’s start with FSU and the NCAA regulation that was violated; otherwise known as Article 10.1 Unethical Conduct, paragraph b:
Unethical conduct by a prospective or enrolled student-athlete or a current or former institutional staff member (e.g., coach, professor, tutor, teaching assistant, student manager, student trainer) may include, but is not limited to, the following:
…(b) Knowing involvement in arranging for fraudulent academic credit or false transcripts for a prospective or an enrolled student athlete;
Now that seems pretty straight forward, but you need to look closely at the phrase “knowing involvement in arranging”. Why didn’t they just say “cheating”? Does all cheating by an athlete constitute an NCAA violation or not?
The short answer is that not all cheating falls under the NCAA’s control. The NCAA issued interpretations to clarify what falls under their purview and what the universities have to deal with:
3. Academic Fraud. The subcommittee reviewed the application of Bylaw 10.1-(b) as it relates to academic fraud and agreed that the following guidelines generally should be used in determining whether an incident of academic fraud should be reported to the NCAA as a violation of Bylaw 10.1-(b) or should be handled exclusively at the institutional level in accordance with its policies applicable to all students:
a. The subcommittee confirmed that an institution is required to report a violation of Bylaw 10.1-(b) any time an institutional staff member (for example, coach, professor, tutor, teaching assistant) is knowingly involved in arranging fraudulent academic credit or false transcripts for a prospective or enrolled student-athlete, regardless of whether the institutional staff member acted alone or in concert with the prospective or enrolled student-athlete.
b. The subcommittee confirmed that an institution is required to report a violation of Bylaw 10-1-(b) any time a student-athlete, acting alone or in concert with others, knowingly becomes involved in arranging fraudulent academic credit or false transcripts, regardless of whether such conduct results in an erroneous declaration of eligibility.
c. If a student-athlete commits an academic offense (for example, cheating on a test, plagiarism on a term paper) with no involvement of an institutional staff member, the institution is not required to report a violation of Bylaw 10.1-(b), unless the academic offense results in an erroneous declaration of eligibility and the student-athlete subsequently competes for the institution.
Finally, the subcommittee noted that in all cases in which a student-athlete knowingly engages in conduct that violates institutional policies, the institution is required in all cases to handle a student-athlete’s academic offense in accordance with its established academic policies applicable to all students, regardless of whether the violation is reportable under Bylaw 10.1-(b)] or whether the student-athlete was acting along or in concert with others.
Per paragraph a, if an institutional staff member is involved in the cheating, an NCAA violation has occurred. But per paragraph c, if “there is no involvement of an institutional staff member”, then an NCAA violation did not necessarily occur.
If you pull up the reports on the FSU scandal, an academic advisor was involved in helping athletes cheat. The penalties for FSU included:
• Public reprimand and censure.
• Four years of probation (March 6, 2009, to March 5, 2013).
• Scholarship reductions in football; men’s and women’s basketball; men’s and women’s swimming; men’s and women’s track and field; baseball; softball; and men’s golf.
• Vacation of all wins in which the 61 student-athletes in the sports of football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s track, men’s golf, baseball and softball competed while ineligible during 2006 and 2007.
• The FSU players had to sit out 30% of the respection seasons.
Now fast forward to UNC, we know that at least one tutor was involved in helping athletes cheat. We know that her contract was not renewed in 2009 and that she worked for Butch until this past spring. So now watch closely….
If there was only one tutor involved in helping the athletes AND
If the cheating occurred after she was being paid only by Butch….
THEN NO INSTITUTIONAL STAFF MEMBER WAS INVOLVED IN THE CHEATING AND THUS NO NCAA VIOLATION OCCURRED.
Let’s go back to THF’s blog and look again at the statement from UNC spokesman Kevin Best for confirmation of this interpretation:
First, every one of these cases is different and each punishment and/or non-punishment has been different. You can infer that the individuals ruled on thus far in the academic misconduct did not commit any NCAA violations. I can not discuss the honor court rulings. In some instances the NCAA does not have to sign off or even discuss the clearances.
So, the difference between FSU and UNC was that in Tallahassee, the cheating academic advisor was being paid by FSU. But in Chapel Hill, the cheating tutor was only being paid by the head football coach.
Isn’t that special?