Mississippi State hit with NCAA sanctions, probation, vacated wins for academic misconduct

Mississippi State hit with NCAA sanctions, probation, vacated wins for academic misconduct

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WLBT) - The NCAA hit Mississippi State with multiple sanctions, including probation, loss of scholarships, and vacated wins, after a former athletics tutor committed multiple academic violations during the fall semester of the 2018-19 academic year.

According to the NCAA, a former Mississippi State student and part-time athletics department tutor helped 10 football players and a men’s basketball player in an online general chemistry course by completing multiple assignments, exams for “nearly the entire course for student-athletes.”

Following an investigation, the NCAA has put Mississippi State on three years of probation and the program will lose a total of four scholarships over a two-year span (two football scholarships during each of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years).

Here is a complete list of the penalties the NCAA will enforce following its investigation:

  • A fine of $5,000, plus 1% each of the football and men’s basketball budgets.
  • A reduction of two football scholarships during each of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
  • A reduction of one men’s basketball scholarship during the 2020-21 academic year.
  • A reduction of four football official visits from the program’s four-year average of 40 visits during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • A reduction of two men’s basketball official visits from the program’s four-year average of 10 visits during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 rolling two-year period.
  • A prohibition of football unofficial visits during one home contest for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
  • A prohibition of men’s basketball unofficial visits during two home contests for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.
  • A reduction of football evaluation days by two in the fall 2019 and 10 in spring 2020.
  • A reduction of men’s basketball recruiting-person days by six in the spring of 2020.
  • Three years of probation.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.
  • A disassociation of the former tutor.
  • All involved student-athletes must conduct one rules education session on the consequences of academic misconduct.
  • Participation in the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals program review and Academic Integrity Assessment process.
  • A 10-year show-cause order for the former tutor. During that period, any NCAA member school employing her must restrict her from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.

The university self-reported these violations to the NCAA.

Mississippi State President Dr. Mark E. Keenum and Director of Athletics John Cohen released statements following the announcement:

“Academic integrity is a core value at Mississippi State and that value guides our policies and decisions. Unfortunately, young people sometimes make poor decisions and those decisions have consequences. When the university learned of possible serious instances of academic misconduct involving student athletes and a student tutor employed part-time by MSU Athletic Academics, we were compelled to remove the student tutor from university employment, fully and independently investigate the matter, and then self-report the misconduct to the NCAA Committee on Infractions. These actions likewise have consequences for the university, but our commitment to operating a competitive athletic program within NCAA guidelines is unwavering – as is our commitment to integrity, transparency and accountability in all university conduct.”
Mississippi State President Dr. Mark E. Keenum
“Our staff at Mississippi State was proactive in our preventative measures, quick to respond, and worked in full cooperation with the NCAA enforcement staff. With all of the compliance training that our staff and student-athletes go through on a year-round basis, it is unfortunate that a student serving as a part-time tutor was able to lead our student-athletes astray. Nevertheless, we take full responsibility for these actions. Mississippi State will work diligently to continue a culture of compliance and continue to take proactive measures moving forward.”
Mississippi State Director of Athletics John Cohen

According to the NCAA release, the former tutor violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she did not participate in an interview with the enforcement staff to discuss her involvement in the conduct.

The names of the athletes involved have not been released.

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