Notre Dame Public Statement on the Committee on Infractions Report
On November 22, 2016, the NCAA Committee on Infractions (COI) issued a public infractions decision involving the University of Notre Dame.
The violations in this case stem from impermissible academic assistance provided by a former student athletic trainer ("student trainer") to several now former student-athletes on the football team. Under NCAA rules in place at the time of the academic misconduct, the student trainer was deemed an "institutional staff member"--the same status as if she were a coach, athletic department administrator or academic counselor. Notre Dame discovered the potential misconduct when a member of its Academic Services for Student-Athletes (ASSA) staff became suspicious that the student trainer provided impermissible assistance to one football student-athlete on a paper. Because the ASSA staff recognized the potential provider's name as a student trainer, it notified both the Compliance Office and the University's Faculty Athletics Representative. Thereafter, under the direction of its Vice President and General Counsel, the institution conducted an exhaustive investigation to determine whether the student trainer provided impermissible academic assistance to any other student-athletes. The investigation included interviews and the review of more than 95,000 emails.
At the end of the investigation, the institution concluded that the student trainer may have provided academic assistance to several football student-athletes--some of whom were still enrolled and others who were no longer enrolled at Notre Dame. Because the Notre Dame Academic Code of Honor (Honor Code) contemplates the adjudication of alleged violations in current courses rather than courses completed in previous semesters, members of the academy at Notre Dame considered whether and how to apply the Honor Code to the facts discovered as part of the investigation. The institution ultimately determined to specially adapt the Honor Code to those facts, which resulted in the adjudication of several instances of academic misconduct among students then enrolled at the University. Several other potential instances of academic misconduct were not adjudicated because they involved former University students, to which the Honor Code does not apply.
Five then current football student-athletes were found responsible under the Notre Dame Honor Code for academic misconduct discovered during the comprehensive investigation. As a result, those students faced sanctions from the University, including temporary dismissal and grade changes in prior courses in which the students received impermissible assistance; in a significant number of cases, that impermissible assistance came from the student trainer.
Notre Dame is extremely disappointed that several students failed to meet institutional expectations regarding academic honesty. The Honor Code outcomes reflect the Notre Dame approach to most instances of student misconduct, which is educative and developmental in nature.
Upon completion of the institutional process, Notre Dame worked closely with the NCAA Enforcement Staff to determine whether any NCAA rules were violated. Ultimately, through a process known as summary disposition, Notre Dame and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed upon the facts relevant to the enforcement of NCAA rules; the violations of NCAA Bylaws 10, 14 and 16 that resulted from those facts; and the overall level of the case under the NCAA's infractions and penalty framework. The violations, described below, fall into three categories:
• Category 1 Violations (Bylaws 10, 14, 16): During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, the student trainer committed academic misconduct with two football student-athletes. The two student-athletes also committed academic misconduct without the involvement of the student trainer or other institutional personnel. As a result of the academic misconduct, the institution imposed grade changes in courses completed by the two football student-athletes during previous semesters. Once those grade changes were applied, the new academic records of the two student-athletes were deficient in certain respects and the institution's certification of their eligibility to compete during the 2012 or 2013 football seasons was retroactively rendered erroneous.
• Category 2 Violations (Bylaw 16): During the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years, the student trainer provided academic extra benefits to six football student-athletes. All six student-athletes subsequently competed after receiving the benefits.
• Category 3 Violations (Bylaws 10, 14, 16): During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, one then football student-athlete committed academic misconduct in five courses. The student-athlete acted without the involvement of the student trainer or other institutional personnel when he violated institutional academic honesty and integrity policies. The institution subsequently reduced the student-athlete's grades for the five courses, and as a result he completed an insufficient number of credits during both the 2012 fall semester and during the 2013 fall semester. The student-athlete competed during the 2013 football season.
The University of Notre Dame, the NCAA Enforcement Staff and the COI agreed that the violations set forth above constituted an overall Level II violation of NCAA rules. Under the four-tiered violation structure, Level I is the most serious and Level IV is the least serious. In addition, under the NCAA violation structure, violations are characterized as "aggravated, standard or mitigated." All entities agreed that the overall violations in this case were Level II - Mitigated.
As a result of agreement upon the violations set forth above and the overall categorization of Level II - Mitigated, the COI imposed the following penalties against the University of Notre Dame:
• Public reprimand and censure
• Disassociation of the former student trainer from Notre Dame athletics for two years
• Probation for one year (November 22, 2016, through November 21, 2017), which includes and requires:
• Enhanced education regarding NCAA rules (with a focus on academic misconduct and extra benefits) and submission of a compliance report detailing such efforts
• Notification to football prospective student-athletes about the violations, penalties and terms of probation
• Public dissemination of a summary of the case
• Vacation of individual records of the involved student-athletes
• $5,000 fine paid to the NCAA
• Note : The COI also imposed a penalty requiring vacation of team records for the 2012 and 2013 football seasons; Notre Dame is appealing that penalty.
It is important to note that the penalties do not include scholarship restrictions, a post-season ban, coach or other personnel suspension or recruiting restrictions.
Please know that Notre Dame is committed to providing the academic resources necessary for football and other student-athletes to succeed at the University of Notre Dame. We are disappointed in the academic misconduct that took place and led to these violations, and we are currently undertaking comprehensive efforts to further reduce the risk of such misconduct in the future and provide even better support for our student-athletes. As a result of this academic misconduct case and the subsequent institutional actions, we believe that Notre Dame will have the best student-athlete personal and academic development programs in the country.
A copy of the NCAA press release and the entire Public Infractions Report are available here.
A copy of Notre Dame's press release is available here.