AP Photo / Jeff Roberson, File

Missouri sanctioned by NCAA after academic misconduct

The Tigers' highly regarded football team won't be eligible for the SEC title game or a bowl game this fall

January 31, 2019 - 10:25 am
Categories: 

By DAVE SKRETTA,  AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The NCAA handed one-year postseason bans and other penalties to Missouri's football, baseball and softball programs on Thursday after a two-year investigation revealed academic misconduct involving a tutor.

The penalties mean that the Tigers' highly regarded football team won't be eligible for the SEC title game or a bowl game this fall. Their baseball and softball programs likewise will not be allowed to participate in the SEC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament.

The Division I Committee on Infractions found that the former tutor, Yolanda Kumar, admitted in late 2016 she had "violated NCAA ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits rules when she completed academic work for 12 student-athletes."

Kumar told the panel that she felt pressured to ensure athletes passed certain courses, primarily in mathematics. But according to the committee's report, "the investigation did not support that her colleagues directed her to complete the student-athletes' work."

NCAA investigators said Kumar completed course work offered by Missouri, courses offered by other schools and a math placement exam required of all students. In one instance, she allegedly completed an entire course for a football player, whose name was not revealed.

Missouri was expected to address the penalties later Thursday.

The school began investigating after Kumar announced on social media that she had committed academic fraud. Earlier this year, athletic director Jim Sterk sent a letter to Kumar that she also posted on social media in which he confirmed she had provided impermissible benefits and that she could no longer be associated with the athletic department.

The NCAA acknowledged the proactive steps that Missouri took in investigating the academic fraud, but the penalties handed down to the football, baseball and softball programs were stiff.

Along with three years of probation and the postseason bans, the programs also must vacate any records from when the 12 athletes involved in the misconduct participated; they will have a 5 percent reductions in scholarships for the upcoming academic year; and they received recruiting restrictions that included a seven-week ban on unofficial visits, off-campus contacts and any communications with prospects, and 12.5 percent reductions in official visits and in-person evaluations.

The NCAA also fined the school $5,000 plus 1 percent of each program's budgets.

Kumar has already been barred by the university from working for the athletic department. She also received a 10-year show-cause order form the NCAA that bars her from working with athletes.

While the case is expected to draw comparisons to recent academic misconduct at North Carolina, the NCAA said it differed in that "UNC stood by the courses and grades it awarded student-athletes."

"In support of that position," the NCAA's report said, "UNC asserted that although courses were created and graded by an office secretary, student-athletes completed their own work. Here, by contrast, Missouri acknowledged that the tutor completed student-athletes' work and, in most instances, this conduct violated its honor code."