By Cady Inabinett, managing editor of content
Corrected on Sept. 20, 2022 at 7:55 p.m. to correct the name of Mark Richard, which was previously written as Mark Richards.
An NCAA investigation into the Montevallo’s men’s basketball team has found the team in violation of NCAA legislation. The investigation, released in June, outlined an act of academic misconduct that occurred during the Fall 2021 semester, as well as established the penalties the team must face going forward.
According to the NCAA’s investigation, the academic misconduct occurred when a volunteer assistant men’s basketball coach completed an online exam for a student on the men’s basketball team. The volunteer assistant coach did this by connecting an HDMI cable to the student’s computer and taking the exam for him while in another room, which would evade lockdown browser and video monitoring precautionary systems used for the exam’s administration.
Allegations of this incident came to light in Nov. 2021, when a professor of the Management 361 class the exam was administered for received an anonymous complaint from another student enrolled in the course. When the University Conduct Council initially questioned the athlete, he denied the misconduct. However, after the council questioned the volunteer assistant coach, the athlete admitted to the academic misconduct.
As a result of the university’s investigation, the student received a failing grade, and the volunteer assistant coach was dismissed from his position with the men’s basketball team.
According UM Director of Athletics Mark Richard, the implicated student athlete chose to transfer to another university.
The NCAA investigation held that no other member of the men’s basketball team staff was involved with the academic misconduct violation, saying, “The investigation did not yield factual information indicating other men’s basketball staff members had knowledge of or involvement in any instances of academic misconduct. Instead, it revealed that the then volunteer assistant men’s basketball coach acted on his own in knowingly committing a violation on one occasion.”
As a result of the NCAA infraction, Montevallo’s men’s basketball team has incurred several penalties. This includes a one year long probation of the men’s basketball team, which began this past June and will last until June 2023.
While on probation, UM’s athletics department must instill a comprehensive misconduct education program, and file both a preliminary and annual report with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions about the status of the program. Additionally, all men’s basketball prospect must be made aware that the team is on probation and given details of the infraction before making a paid visit or signing a national letter of intent.
Richard spoke on how the department is instituting compliance education moving forwards, saying, “In response to the penalization the athletics department has implemented a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation for coaches and staff that is presented monthly during our staff meetings. After each staff meeting we hold a ‘Compliance 101’ program that helps coaches better understand NCAA legislation.”
Richard also said that Faculty Athletic Representative Dr. Benton Tyler has spoken to athletics staff about academic integrity.
Additionally, the team must vacate team and individual records from a period where the accused athlete was still competing with the team while being considered an ineligible player due to the academic misconduct. This includes seven games taking place in a timeframe of Oct. 8-Nov. 9, 2021. This means that the team has to vacate all wins incurred during that period.
In addition to the probation and record vacation, Montevallo had to pay a $5,000 fine to the NCAA. This fine was paid out of an athletics foundation account according to Richards.
The implicated volunteer assistant coach has also been subjected to a two-year show-cause order, which took effect in June and will last until June 2024. During the first year of the show-cause period, any NCAA member institution must restrict the former coach from all athletics-related activities. During the second year, he is restricted from being involved with any off campus recruiting for an employer.
After the release of the NCAA investigation, UM Athletics published a statement avowing their commitment to academic integrity and outlining the results of the investigation.
“Our top priorities in the University of Montevallo Department of Athletics are athletics compliance and academic integrity as an NCAA member institution. We complete a comprehensive investigation following any suspected infractions of NCAA rules and promptly self-report any violations that are discovered and impose appropriate penalties after a thorough review of the infractions,” the statement read.
The statement went on to note the quick response to misconduct allegations, saying, “We believe our commitment to academic and athletic integrity is reflected in our timely self-reporting of NCAA infractions and our complete cooperation in their investigative process. We are thankful that the NCAA enforcement staff and the Committee on Infractions have affirmed our commitment to compliance obligations as a member institution.”
Richard reaffirmed these statements, saying UM’s athletics department has, “learned that we have good policies and procedures in place and took immediate action when notified,” in the wake of the investigation and that, “We plan to make sure that every aspect of the program is in compliance going forward.”
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.