Sports

NCAA penalizes NC Central over certification issues involving athletes in 7 sports

N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton encourages his team during First Four basketball game against Texas Southern. The Eagles men's basketball program has been affected by the NCAA Committee on Infractions' ruling.
N.C. Central coach LeVelle Moton encourages his team during First Four basketball game against Texas Southern. The Eagles men's basketball program has been affected by the NCAA Committee on Infractions' ruling. AP file

The NCAA Committee on Infractions issued numerous penalties against N.C. Central on Wednesday, citing "improper eligibility certifications" at the school and "the institution's failure to monitor its certification process," which are Level II violations, according to the NCAA.

Those penalties include vacating wins within the men's basketball, football and baseball programs.

The NCAA's case against N.C. Central involved 22 student-athletes in seven sports, including men's and women's cross country and track and field teams, and baseball, football and men's basketball teams from 2012-17.

N.C. Central officials declined to comment.

According to the NCAA's public infractions decision, "The improper certifications came from a single, but repeated, error of counting foundational courses toward student-athletes’ percentage-of-degree completion. Outdated degree auditing and academic advising systems were another factor that contributed to the violations. Additionally, the academic support and certification groups did not have enough staff to oversee the certification process. Because of the improper certifications, 22 student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university also did not withhold six of the student-athletes from competition before they were reinstated."

“The NCAA enforcement staff significantly noted in its report that ‘the violations were unintentional and the institution otherwise maintained appropriate certification, rules education, and monitoring policies and procedures,’ ” N.C. Central said in a statement.

N.C. Central can appeal.

The school received a draft Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Nov. 15, 2017, after an Academic Progress Program review revealed that N.C. Central had "improperly certified several student-athletes over multiple years," according to the NCAA. N.C. Central had received a verbal notice of inquiry on Feb. 24, 2017.

Here's a breakdown of the violations:

1. N.C. Central from 2012-13 and 2014-15 improperly certified 22 athletes in seven sports. Those 22 students "competed without meeting percentage-of-degree requirements. Five of these students did not meet credit hour requirements but competed. The student-athletes competed "and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible." Also, the school did not keep six of the 22 from competing before reinstatement between 2013-14 and 2016-17 academic years.

2. The violations in Violation 1 above show that N.C. Central "failed to adequately monitor student-athlete eligibility certification to ensure compliance with NCAA legislation." The school did not properly apply "progress-toward-degree legislation." This led to 22 athletes being certified to compete, which "caused significant ineligible competition and impermissible provision of actual and necessary expenses."

Here are the penalties N.C. Central received:

Two years of probation from May 30, 2018, through May 29, 2020.

Vacation of records, including all regular-season competition and conference tournaments. The men's basketball team will vacate 16 wins from the 2012-13 season. The football team will vacate 21 wins over the course of four seasons (2012-15) including the 2014 and 2015 conference co-championships. The baseball team will vacate 21 wins over two seasons (2013 and 2014).

The institution will pay a self-imposed $5,000 fine to the NCAA.

Public reprimand and censure. (Self-imposed.)

Jerry Mack, who coached football at N.C. Central from 2013 until December 2017, was saddened by the penalties and the vacated wins.

"Once the university self-reported the errors that were discovered in the athletic department’s certification process, we knew that some kind of penalty was coming," Mack said. "I think we all held out hope that they would not be this severe. Our success was the result of hard work by a great group of student-athletes who were guided by a coaching staff committed to doing things the right way. I hope our players and fans will always remember that about those teams.”

Basketball coach LeVelle Moton, baseball coach Jim Koerner did not immediately respond to requests for comment.



The penalties imposed did not include any additional competition penalties, scholarship reductions or recruiting restrictions.

An academic performance review in September 2016 revealed an administrative error regarding the certification process athletes on the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams, and baseball, football and men’s basketball teams, the school's release said.

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