UL reacts NCAA sanctions

Photo Credit: University of Louisiana at Lafayette

The following is a release from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette: 

The NCAA Committee on Infractions issued its report today stemming from last year’s allegations involving David Saunders, a former University of Louisiana at Lafayette assistant football coach.

The Committee imposed on the Ragin’ Cajuns football program the lowest level of penalties for Level I violations within the NCAA’s penalty structure. The Committee imposed severe penalties on Saunders.

The Committee’s findings validate that there was no “lack of institutional control” by UL Lafayette, no “failure to monitor,” and no “lack of head coach responsibility.” The Committee determined that Coach Mark Hudspeth, his other staff members and student-athletes had no culpability for the NCAA infractions.

The Committee’s report follows a two-year NCAA investigation, a concurrent investigation by the University, and an appearance by University officials at a hearing in November.

Committee members found that Saunders was involved in conduct that led to falsifying ACT scores of five prospective student-athletes and that he made cash payments to a student-athlete.

The Committee noted that while UL Lafayette likely could not have stopped the former assistant coach because he concealed his activities, ultimately a university is responsible for the actions of its employees.

In its response to the NCAA Notice of Allegations in May, the University self-imposed penalties, which included vacating the 2011 football season, reducing football recruiting activities for two years, and reducing football scholarships over three seasons. The University also proposed that the NCAA place its program on probation for two years. The penalties were consistent with the NCAA’s penalty structure.

The NCAA accepted the self-imposed sanctions by the University. Further penalties to the University by the Committee include vacating some games from the 2012-2014 seasons in which student-athletes competed while ineligible, a $5,000 fine, and an additional year of recruiting restrictions. The penalties do not include any future post-season ban.

Due to a lack of credible evidence, the University disagrees with the NCAA’s finding that Saunders made cash payments to a student-athlete. As noted in the Committee’s report, “the panel was somewhat concerned about student-athlete 2’s credibility and there were no other known witnesses to the payments.” Under the appeals process, even if the University were to prevail, the result would not likely change the sanctions against the University, so the University will not appeal.

The University agrees with the NCAA’s finding for the allegation of the invalid ACT scores. As an NCAA member institution, the University accepts the rules and sanctions, however, it is holding ACT Inc., accountable for test administration failures.

The University filed a lawsuit against ACT, Inc., today seeking damages for failure to detect improper test administration or exam results at one of its Mississippi testing sites, failure to timely investigate the matter, and failure to notify the NCAA or UL Lafayette of exam score improprieties.

Follow these links for the NCAA final report, NCAA notice of allegations and UL Lafayette’s initial response.
QUOTES

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette President

“We are pleased that the Committee on Infractions recognized that the University did not have involvement in or knowledge of Level 1 violations and imposed on us the lowest level of penalties. Further, the Committee recognized our full cooperation and determination to get to the truth surrounding the allegations.”

“UL Lafayette will continue to comply with NCAA standards and remains committed to maintaining a comprehensive rules compliance program.”

Scott Farmer, Director of Athletics, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

“We are proud of the Ragin’ Cajuns football program, our staff and our student-athletes. Thanks to our fans for their support throughout this process. Our greatest days are still ahead of us. As Ragin’ Cajuns, we are strong, we persevere and as our fight song says, we ‘Fight On.’ ”
Mark Hudspeth, Head Football Coach, Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

“Even though we do not agree with the full findings, we are thankful that this chapter is behind us and we are ready to move on with building a championship program. We are grateful to all of our fans who have supported our program and we look forward to getting back to work in preparation for the 2016 season.”
NCAA Committee of Infractions Report

“…a substantial competitive advantage did not result from his [Saunders] violations…” (p.10)

“The case did not involve a failure to monitor or lack of institutional control. There was also no allegation that the head coach lacked control in this case.” (p. 20)

“In short, the institution’s exemplary cooperation in this case was a model for the kind of relationship and cooperation member institutions should strive for in the infractions process.” (p. 21)

University statement on ACT lawsuit

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has filed a lawsuit today seeking damages for ACT, Inc.’s failure to detect improper test administration or exam results at one of its testing sites, failure to timely investigate such improprieties, and failure to notify the NCAA or the University.

The lawsuit charges that since at least 2010, answer sheets for several prospective student-athletes who took the ACT college readiness exam at its testing site at Wayne County High School in Waynesboro, Miss., were altered, creating false test scores.

In providing test results to the NCAA and UL Lafayette, ACT misrepresented prospective student-athletes’ exam scores, which the University relied upon to determine their eligibility.

The NCAA today sanctioned UL Lafayette even though its Committee on Infractions noted that the University neither lacked institutional control nor failed to monitor.

According to the suit, ACT “knew or should have known in the reasonable implementation of its duties to ensure valid testing conditions and exam scores.”

The suit notes that beyond NCAA sanctions, related adverse publicity is “damaging to the UL’s reputation for integrity and impairs its ability to attract qualified students and faculty.”

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System, will hold ACT accountable for its actions.

Follow these links for the lawsuit against ACT, Inc., and NCAA final report.


QUOTE

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette President

“College readiness tests are used in a variety of ways including admissions, course placement and awarding of both academic and athletic scholarships. This is bigger than the Ragin’ Cajuns. This is bigger than college football. The credibility of college readiness test administration significantly affects higher education and needs to be addressed.”

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