Alabama basketball receives NCAA probation but no postseason ban
The Alabama men’s basketball program was placed on three years’ probation by the NCAA on Friday but did not receive a postseason ban or recruiting restrictions as part of its penalty.
The NCAA found that University of Alabama associate athletics director Kobie Baker violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he received money in exchange for facilitating a meeting between the father of an athlete, reportedly Collin Sexton of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, a financial adviser and the financial adviser’s representative, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.
Baker was not listed by name in the report but was identified by The Tuscaloosa News in its original reporting
Alabama also received a fine of $5,000 plus 1% of the men’s basketball program budget. Baker received a 10-year show-cause order. During that period, any NCAA member school employing him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
The institutional penalties that Alabama received could be appealed but no immediate decision has been made on that matter. Baker did not fully cooperate with the investigation, per the NCAA, and therefore cannot appeal the show cause.
“Following the panel’s proposal, Alabama notified the panel that it disagreed with the proposed penalties and ... self-imposed probation and a financial penalty at the low end of the penalty ranges associated with Level I-Mitigated cases,” the NCAA’s full report said. “Among other reasons, Alabama argued that its behavior after becoming aware of potential violations served as a model for how member institutions should handle potential violations."
The violations were discovered as part of a broader scheme involving money and influence in college basketball that resulted in the arrest and prosecution of multiple individuals on conspiracy and bribery charges, the committee said in its decision. The behavior uncovered during the federal investigation led to significant NCAA reforms and investigations to determine whether NCAA rules were violated.
The committee said the violations in this case were unique because they resulted from the conduct of an athletics department administrator rather than a coach. The behavior was uncovered when the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York unsealed a complaint against the financial adviser’s representative that detailed his activities with the financial adviser. Among other conduct, the initial complaint alleged that the financial adviser and his representative facilitated payments from the financial adviser to an individual later identified as the former associate athletics director at Alabama, although a superseding indictment later removed all references to the former associate athletics director. The university and NCAA enforcement staff, however, conducted a collaborative investigation to determine whether NCAA rules were violated.
UA and the enforcement staff agreed that Baker received at least $3,000 from the financial adviser and his representative for setting up a dinner with the athlete’s father.
Baker admitted he knew from the first meeting that the financial adviser and his representative wanted access to athletes and their parents. The committee said he also knew they wanted him to facilitate that access because it would enhance their credibility in the eyes of potential clients.
The meetings violated NCAA rules because athletics department staff members are prohibited from receiving benefits for facilitating or arranging a meeting between an athlete or their family members and an agent, financial adviser or a representative of an agent or adviser.
“The nature of the conduct — selling access to student-athletes and their families — completely undermines the Association’s foundational values,” the committee said in its decision.
The case was resolved by using a cooperative summary disposition, a process in which involved parties collectively submit the case to the committee in written form. All participating parties must agree to the facts of the case for this process to be used instead of a formal hearing.
The committee proposed a three-year probation period and a fine. Alabama did not agree with the panel’s proposed penalties and requested an expedited penalty hearing. The panel reviewed the penalty on the written record and determined this case requires more than the minimum penalties, given the substantive nature of the violations and the associate athletics director’s leadership role within the athletics administration and oversight over the men’s basketball program. The university may appeal the penalties. The committee also proposed a 10-year show-cause order for the former associate athletics director’s violations.
“The panel recognizes that the violations in this case were unique in that they resulted from an administrator’s conduct rather than an individual within the sport program. Although that relationship is different, it does not absolve Alabama from responsibility, nor does it suggest that only minimum penalties are appropriate,” the panel said it in decision.
The full NCAA report is available here: https://ncaaorg.s3.amazonaws.com/infractions/decisions/Nov2020D1INF_UniversityAlabamaPUBLICInfractionsDecision.pdf
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt