news 1 week ago

NCAA denies Missouri's appeal, upholds sanctions against football, softball, baseball

The Kansas City Star — By Souichi Terada The Kansas City Star

Nov. 26-- The Missouri Tigers football team is ineligible for the postseason after the NCAA this week denied the university's appeal of sanctions against several of its sports programs.

After months of waiting on its infractions appeal, Missouri received the NCAA's answer Tuesday morning: the initial ruling stands.

In its appeal, Mizzou argued the postseason ban, scholarship reductions and recruiting restrictions issued Jan. 31 by the NCAA Committee on Infractions were too harsh based on precedent in previous academic cases. Missouri went before the infraction appeals committee on July 18 to argue its stance.

The infractions appeals committee said it was "hesitant to overturn a penalty within the appropriate penalty guidelines unless there is a clear indication of arbitrary decision-making."

In the short term, even if Mizzou football coach Barry Odom's team reaches six wins Friday at Arkansas, it'll be the last game the Tigers play this year. MU is 5-6 and riding a five-game losing streak.

The bigger blow is the $8 million to $9 million Missouri stands to lose as the postseason ban on football is upheld. SEC rules mandate schools forfeit their share of bowl revenue should they be barred from the postseason. The extra money was going to be important for an athletic department that has operated in the red the past two years.

Jon Sundvold, chair of the Missouri Board of Curators said the "ruling tells every other school that it's better to hide the truth than to admit mistakes."

In a joint statement, Missouri chancellor Alexander Cartwright and athletic director Jim Sterk said they were "appalled by the NCAA infractions appeals committee's decision to shirk its responsibilities and simply uphold sanctions that are not consistent with precedent or even common sense."

"Today's decision raises serious questions about whether the current NCAA enforcement system encourages or discourages cultures of compliance and integrity. While we have exhausted our NCAA appeal avenues, we will continue to advocate for meaningful reform within the NCAA enforcement process."

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey said the penalties against Mizzou are "unusually severe when fully considered."

"Mizzou is presented with considerable challenges as a result of this decision, however it is a university of proud heritage that will persevere thanks to its strong leadership and high ethical standards."

Sundvold said the "decision hurts student-athletes who had nothing to do with the actions uncovered."

Some of those athletes spoke out on Twitter.

Redshirt junior softball player Cayla Kissinger said: "I'm truly disappointed. It hurts my heart to know that these are the decisions that are being upheld by the @NCAA. No matter what I am forever grateful to wear Mizzou across my chest and represent one heck of a university. Mizzou nation, we need your support more now than ever!"

Tuesday's decision comes after a months-long process that grew increasingly frustrating for those around the university. An initial ruling on Jan. 31 by the NCAA Committee on Infractions determined former tutor Yolanda Kumar had broken rules pertaining to ethical conduct, academic misconduct and extra academic benefits between mid-2015 and mid-2016 when she completed academic assignments for a dozen MU student-athletes.

Missouri had self-reported the violations after Kumar posted on social media about what she'd done. The NCAA committee's initial findings said MU should've discovered the violations on its own.

The penalties came as a surprise to MU because of the school's cooperation with the NCAA and self-imposed punishments once the academic infractions came to light.

After the NCAA's ruling in January, Missouri appealed the decision. Missouri built its appeal on three grounds, all pertaining to the severity of the penalties on the grounds that the penalties didn't follow case precedent, they were inappropriate given the nature of the violations and could "have a chilling effect on future NCAA enforcement processes."

Since then, the NCAA had been quiet while reviewing the matter.

Along with the postseason ban for football, baseball and softball and loss of the shared conference bowl revenue, the NCAA sanctions include probation, scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, vacated wins and assorted fees.

Scholarship reductions include 5% of the football, baseball and softball teams' max allotment. Football has 85 scholarships, so the team stands to lose four to five scholarships. The softball and baseball teams will lose one scholarship each.

___

(c)2019 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)

Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.