March 3, 2003

NCAA Division III Committee Places Salem State College on Two Year Probation

Holland & Knight Education Alert
James D. Smeallie

The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions has placed Salem State College on two years probation for violations in the institution's men's soccer program. The case, which is the first major infractions case involving a Division III institution since the 1997 NCAA restructuring, primarily concerned violations of NCAA rules governing financial aid, unethical conduct, and extra benefits.

The committee determined that the head men's soccer coach, the volunteer soccer coach, and the volunteer coach's girlfriend/business partner arranged for or provided two loans for $11,900 to a men's soccer student-athlete for assisting the student-athlete in paying his tuition bill.

The committee imposed numerous penalties, including the following:

Public reprimand and censure.

Two years of probation.

One-year postseason competition ban.

Forfeit of 12 contests.

Elimination of all off-campus recruiting activities in men's soccer during the 2003-04 academic year.

NCAA member institutions can use this case, as well as other public infractions reports of the NCAA committees on infractions, as a tool to improve athletics compliance programs. (The Salem State public infractions report and other public infractions reports can be found on the NCAA Web site, which is located at

In particular, NCAA Division III institutions can use the lessons learned in the Salem State case to implement the following proposed compliance strategies:

Implement NCAA rules compliance instructional sessions for all coaches; the sessions should be mandatory and attendance taken; the sessions should address financial aid, unethical conduct, and extra benefit legislation; in addition, participation in these sessions should be taken into account in a coach's annual performance evaluation.

Increase the student-athlete compliance education program with special attention paid to financial aid and extra benefit legislation.

Implement a "booster education program," which includes annual NCAA rules compliance seminars with booster organizations, and dissemination of a NCAA rules education pamphlet, annual letter, or e-mail to all members of booster organizations summarizing pertinent NCAA legislation.

Develop ways to identify and monitor more efficiently and effectively boosters, including, but not limited to, operating all booster funds and athletic fund raising efforts under a single umbrella.

Maintain records of all educational information disseminated to coaches, student-athletes, and boosters.

In addition, Division III institutions can receive assistance regarding athletics compliance programs from the NCAA, athletics conferences, and collegiate sports consultants. Holland & Knight LLP also offers comprehensive services in both education and sports law to NCAA member institutions, including providing athletics compliance reviews, preparing compliance manuals, preparing student-athlete reinstatement requests and appeals, representing institutions before the NCAA committees on infractions, and providing educational compliance presentations to student-athletes, coaches, and other members of the institutional community.

For more information please contact J.D. Smeallie or any member of the Education Law Practice Group at Holland & Knight LLP, 10 St. James Avenue, Boston, MA 02116, (617) 523-2700.

Related Insights