Guest Blog: Tim Epstein on NCAA rules and show clauses
"After last week's post on Bruce Pearl, Tim Epstein '99 and I had an offline conversation regarding show clauses and NCAA penalties. Tim, who teaches sports law and runs a sports law group, agreed to clarify some of the issues. His explanations run below."
What is a show-cause penalty and what does it entail?
-- NCAA bylaw 19.02.03: Show-Cause Order. A show-cause order is an order that requires a member institution (i.e. school or conference) to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Committee on Infractions (“COI”) why it should not be subject to a penalty or additional penalty for not taking appropriate disciplinary or corrective action with regard to an institutional staff member or representative of the institution’s athletics interests found by the Committee as having been involved in a violation of the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws.
This rule potentially leaves any school that wishes to employ an individual subject to a show-cause order, within the term of said show-cause order, to potential NCAA penalties at the institutional level. Therefore, if a school wishes to hire Bruce Pearl prior to the conclusion of his show-cause penalty, the school that hires him could face NCAA penalties based on Pearl’s NCAA violations while he was at Tennessee.
As a result, if BC hires Bruce Pearl as head coach and fails to show-cause for hiring him, BC could face NCAA penalties for violations that occurred while Pearl worked at a different school both in the form of
Pearl's penalties remaining in place as well as additional sanctions on BC.
So, to clear up a couple misconceptions: (1) a show-cause order does not require a NCAA member institution to fire the employee, nor does it (2) serve as a ban against a member institution from hiring the penalized coach/staff member.
What was the actual penalty against Bruce Pearl and the reason for the penalty?
Pearl received a three-year show-cause order, and three of his assistants were given one-year show-cause penalties. The COI singled out Pearl and his staff for giving misleading information about a cookout in 2008 that involved a junior in high school (current Ohio State guard Aaron Craft). Craft was on an unofficial visit and was not allowed to be at Pearl's home. The COI noted that Pearl said that attendance at the cookout was an NCAA violation and encouraged those who were there not to disclose it to others. Pearl then lied about the incident and called Craft's father to ask him to do so as well before finally telling the truth to NCAA investigators.
Pearl’s show cause penalty expires Aug. 23, 2014.
How would hiring Bruce Pearl prior to the expiration of his show cause penalty effect BC?
If BC wishes to hire Bruce Pearl before the expiration, BC must appear before the COI to show cause why BC should not be subject to penalties for hiring Bruce Pearl prior to the conclusion of his show-cause order.
If BC fails to show cause for hiring Pearl, (1) Pearl's current penalty would continue through the expiration date of the show-cause order, and (2) BC could face additional disciplinary actions and penalties from the COI.
Therefore, the far majority of the time, a member institution will not hire an individual currently serving out a show-cause penalty.
Would Bruce Pearl’s past transgressions still be penalized now?
Yes it would be. 13.02.4 defines what a contact is. A contact is any face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s parents, relatives or legal guardians and an institutional staff member or athletics representative during which any dialogue occurs in excess of an exchange of a greeting. Any such face-to-face encounter that is prearranged (e.g., staff member positions himself or herself in a location where contact is possible) or that takes place on the grounds of the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution or at the site of organized competition or practice involving the prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s high school, preparatory school, two-year college or all-star team shall be considered a contact, regardless of whether any conversation occurs. However, an institutional staff member or athletics representative who is approached by a prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s parents, relatives or legal guardians at any location shall not be regarded as a contact, provided the encounter was not prearranged and the staff member or athletics representative does not engage in any dialogue in excess of a greeting and takes appropriate steps to immediately terminate the encounter. (Revised: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94)
NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1: in men’s basketball, off-campus recruiting of contacts shall not be made with an individual (or his relatives or legal guardians) before the opening day of his junior year in high school.
Contacts that occur during a prospective student-athlete’s junior year during recruiting periods other than the April recruiting period may occur only at the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution. During the April recruiting period of a prospective student-athlete’s junior year, contacts may occur at either the prospective student-athlete’s educational institution or residence. (Adopted: 10/27/11 effective 8/1/12)
At the time of Aaron Craft’s unofficial visit he was only in 11th grade. Therefore, the barbeque at Bruce Pearl’s house would still be a NCAA violation today, as would Pearl’s lying to NCAA investigators.
What may have changed if the violation occurred in 2014 is that the penalty levied against Pearl would have been shorter in duration.