Breaking 18 months of silence, Dr. Tom Peterson, former head coach of BYU Men's Volleyball, responds to Tuesday's NCAA announcement of findings based on an investigation involving the Cougar's men's volleyball program.
"Essentially, the university and I were accused of failing to monitor the program for NCAA rules compliance. I deny that accusation," said Peterson.
In Peterson's view, the NCAA findings that certain technical violations occurred does not support the conclusion that the head coach was turning a blind eye. He points to his previously unblemished record of 27 years of NCAA coaching, and to what former assistants, players and administrators describe as the atmosphere of compliance he created.
"The fact that rules were violated in spite of our consistent efforts to foster compliance proves only that even the most conscientious efforts on the part of the head coach are not always enough to prevent players, boosters, and even coaches from technical mistakes," said Peterson.
"The evidence is clear I consulted with the university's compliance officers. I appointed one of my assistant coaches as our program's recruiting coordinator with the assignment of closely monitoring all aspects of recruiting and compliance. We reviewed his recruiting reports in weekly staff meetings and I was consistently assured by him that specific requests and concerns were being taken care of. I also made diligent efforts to personally communicate with players, recruits, and boosters regarding expected behavior. Given my history with and affection for the BYU program," said Peterson, "I did everything I thought was necessary and appropriate to keep the program in compliance."
Both the NCAA and BYU agreed early on that no unethical conduct was displayed by Peterson there were no violations of an intentional nature and nothing that gave BYU an unfair recruiting advantage. The violations were technical in nature.
"All of the allegations that the NCAA chose to pursue stemmed from humanitarian concern for others, and the actions were inadvertent. No one was trying to circumvent rules, and none of the violations gave BYU an unfair recruiting advantage," states Peterson.
For example, BYU and Peterson were accused of recruiting violations in connection with the decision of an individual who moved on his own from Puerto Rico to Provo to seek admittance to the university and membership on its men's volleyball team. (In the NCAA teleconference, Committee on Infractions Chair Jo Potuto misquoted Coach Peterson on the subject of recruiting this player, attributing to him salty language that the Coach did not and does not use.)
Without Peterson's knowledge, a player gave the individual a ride from the airport and, when his housing plans fell through, allowed him to stay at the player's apartment for some weeks. When Peterson saw they were developing a close friendship, he consulted with the compliance office and insisted that both maintain a proper student athlete/potential recruit relationship. Both informed Peterson that they were conforming to this, and Peterson tasked his recruiting coordinator to follow up on the situation.
When it appeared to all that the individual would not qualify to join the team, he sought career employment with a booster, not itself a violation of any rule. In fact, the individual had sought permanent employment only because of a mistake by the NCAA Clearinghouse in initially declaring him ineligible.
Again, Peterson asked the university's compliance officers for guidance, provided the booster with printed regulations, reviewed the pertinent NCAA rules with the booster and the recruit, and made it clear that the individual must be treated no differently from any other employee.
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