The NCAA has ruled on Missouri’s academic fraud investigation, which began in November 2016.
The investigation centered around former Missouri tutor Yolanda Kumar, who publicly claimed allegations of academic fraud against Missouri and said she cheated for multiple athletes.
The findings were centered on the Missouri football, softball and baseball programs.
The NCAA said, in its news release, that Kumar, “violated NCAA ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits rules when she completed academic work for 12 student-athletes, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.”
In the NCAA’s report, the committee found that Kumar was acting alone in the academic fraud cases. It specified that “the investigation did not support that her colleagues directed her to complete the student-athletes work.”
Still, the NCAA found that the violations to be Level I violations, the most severe to the NCAA.
According to the NCAA’s website Level I violations are violations that, “Undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws, including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit.”
Because of the severity the NCAA handed Missouri a host of sanctions on the university, the biggest of them being a one-year postseason ban for the Missouri football team for the 2019-20 season. The softball and baseball teams also received a one-year postseason ban that will go into effect this season.
Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said that Missouri plans to appeal the ruling.
“Once these issues were brought to our attention in November 2016, the university moved swiftly and fully cooperated with the NCAA Enforcement staff to jointly investigate the allegations that were made. We are shocked and dismayed by the penalties that have been imposed today and will aggressively fight for what is right,” Sterk said in an emailed statement.
Among other sanctions, the NCAA has placed Missouri on a three-year probation, vacation of records in which football, baseball and softball student-athletes competed in while ineligible — Missouri has 45 days to report those records to the NCAA — a five percent reduction in scholarships for the football, baseball and softball programs during the 2019-20 academic year and various other recruiting restrictions.
Missouri will also be fined $5,000, plus one percent of each of the football, baseball and softball programs budgets.
Sterk disagreed with the severity of the NCAA’s sanctions.
“The Committee on Infractions has abused its discretion in applying penalties in this case, and the University will immediately appeal this decision that has placed unfair penalties on our department and programs,” Sterk said in an emailed statement. “It is hard to fathom that the University could be cited for exemplary cooperation throughout this case, and yet end up with these unprecedented penalties that could unfairly and adversely impact innocent current and future Mizzou student-athletes.”
Dave Roberts, chief hearing officer for the panel and special advisor to the president of Southern California, said that an appeals process can take up to a few months before a hearing. The hearing could take additional months, as well.
According to a document that details the appeals process on the NCAA’s website the approved process spells out a 110-day appeals timeline, but could take longer depending on the complexity of the case. “The process is designed to be fair and impartial with no rush to judgement,” it said.
In the case of an appeal, it could come with a stay to delay the sanctions, potentially allowing the softball and baseball programs to play in the postseason this season.
Roberts also said that there is legislation that would allow, under certain circumstances, student-athletes to transfer without the one-year ineligibility.
The NCAA’s report did not name Kumar “due to her repeated threats to leak information about the case.” But along with the sanctions on the university, the NCAA instituted a 10-year show-cause order on Kumar. During that time any NCAA member school that hires Kumar must restrict her from any athletically related duties.
In the process of the violations the NCAA found that Kumar completed work for six student-athletes in two different math courses at the university.
Missouri determined three of the student-athletes violated the Missouri honor code, but was unable to determine if two of the student-athletes violated the code because of lack of information and, according to the report, the sixth student-athlete was unresponsive to the inquiry.
The NCAA committee also found that Kumar completed match coursework from other schools for six of the student-athletes. “In one instance she completed an entire course for a football student-athlete,” the statement said.
Missouri requires all students to take a math placement exam to determine whether they must complete a remedial math course before moving onto college algebra. The NCAA found that Kumar assisted two football student-athletes’ completion of Missouri’s math placement exam.