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University sends NCAA final report on student-athlete certification issue

Feb. 3, 2009 -- Following academic certification issues discovered last August at Arkansas State University, an external investigation concluded there was “no unethical conduct or purposeful intent to certify student-athletes as eligible for competition contrary to National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) legislation.”

“This matter has been very distressing to all those involved in intercollegiate athletics at Arkansas State University,” said ASU Chancellor Robert L. Potts. “However, I am pleased that the concerns, once discovered, were immediately reported to the proper entities for a full investigative review. Following the review, Arkansas State University began implementing the investigative group’s recommendations to correct this matter as well as to ensure full compliance with NCAA certification rules in the future.”

In light of the inadvertent mistakes made in the certification of 21 student-athletes, the school is self-imposing a penalty for the certification errors made by the university. In addition, ASU officials have taken steps to correct campus certification procedures.

In a letter dated Jan. 29, 2009, Chancellor Potts notified the NCAA enforcement office in Indianapolis, Ind., of the results of the investigation and steps taken to address its findings.

The institutional monetary penalty of $43,500 was calculated from a formula outlined in NCAA Bylaw 19.5.1, which is a $500 fine per student-athlete multiplied by the number of athletic contests played while ineligible. The maximum fine per student-athlete is $5,000.

Questions surrounding inappropriate academic certification of the student-athletes surfaced in August 2008. The discrepancies lay in inconsistent evaluations of transfer credit hours to ASU and the calculation of hours toward degree completion. None of the student-athletes were accused of any wrongdoing.

Once ASU officials learned of the infractions, Chancellor Potts informed the NCAA and the Sun Belt Conference of the situation, and ASU requested waivers for the 21 student-athletes. The NCAA granted the requests for waivers for all except one who was withheld from athletic competition for 15 games.

An internal examination by ASU, along with an external review by the Sun Belt office and The Compliance Group, an outside consulting firm specializing in certification procedures, followed. This external review, conducted in November 2008, was led by Dr. Kathy Keene, associate commissioner for compliance at the Sun Belt Conference, and Rick Allen, consultant with The Compliance Group.

The report provided a list of recommendations to prevent similar inadvertent violations in the future. Chancellor Potts has requested that Dr. Dean Lee, director of athletics, and Dr. Dan Howard, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, oversee the implementation of all recommendations contained in the report.

In the final report to the NCAA, Chancellor Potts noted that the campus personnel involved with the miscalculations of the academic certification formula for the student-athletes in question are no longer involved with athletic certification responsibilities.

“We apologize to the NCAA and its members for our inadvertent errors in this matter,” concluded Chancellor Potts. “We trust that the definitive steps we have taken will ensure full compliance in the future and adequately penalize the university for mistakes of the past.”

As of Tuesday, the NCAA had not given its response to the university’s letter.

Support documentation, including the ASU Student-Athlete Certification Review, may be obtained through the following link: .                        



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