PROVO The NCAA concluded its 18-month investigation of the BYU men's volleyball program with its Division I Committee on Infractions announcing Tuesday the finding of "major and secondary violations" and leveling a series of sanctions against the Cougar team, including a public reprimand and three years probation.
BYU's most decorated men's sports program three NCAA championships in the last decade and a current No. 1 national ranking becomes the university's first to receive NCAA-mandated sanctions.
The committee cited former BYU head volleyball coach Tom Peterson and the university's compliance office for failing to monitor possible violations of prospective recruits living in or visiting Provo before enrollment.
"Essentially, the university and I were accused of failing to monitor the program for NCAA rules compliance. I deny that accusation," said Peterson in a statement released through his attorney, M. Steven Andersen.
The committee also singled out two defected Cuban National Volleyball Team players including former BYU All-American Yosleyder Cala, who now is playing professionally in Greece as receiving provisions and inducements provided by individuals deemed to be "representatives" of BYU's athletic interests.
In an era of in high-end cars, cash-stuffed envelopes and other inducements, BYU's violations and offending "representatives" include a player's mother paying for an English proficiency course for the Cuban-born Cala; Cougar players helping to house, feed and transport him prior to his BYU enrollment; and a Canadian booster employing Cala at two dollars above what the NCAA deemed an appropriate hourly pay rate, providing assistance in preparing for SAT and ACT exams and paying travel costs to attend a volleyball match.
The most serious situation in terms of in monetary value only indirectly affects BYU.
The same booster helping Cala also provided an estimated $13,000 in inducements including $8,000 in legal fees for immigration issues, as well as use of a car, clothing and lodging for Cala's friend and former Cuban teammate, who never enrolled at BYU or another NCAA institution and wasn't ever considered a viable BYU recruit.
"All of the allegations that the NCAA chose to pursue stemmed from humanitarian concern for others, and the actions were inadvertent," said Peterson. "No one was trying to circumvent rules, and none of the violations gave BYU an unfair recruiting advantage."
Other than his accepting a loan of two bicycles to be used by a team member and Cala, neither BYU as an institution nor any of its officials or employees including Peterson were found to have taken improper recruiting actions.
Instead, it was a matter of sins of omission a lack of oversight rather than sins of commission.
Committee chairman and University of Nebraska law professor Josephine Potuto said program oversight especially when dealing with international prospective athletes on or around campus prior to enrollment has been an NCAA concern for the past decade, with schools needing to be more vigilant in tracking and monitoring situations.
"Oversight of rules compliance is an absolute condition of NCAA membership," she said.
Besides the reprimand and probation, BYU receives slight temporary decreases in scholarships, roster size and recruiting visits. The Cougars do not forfeit any results or lose any postseason possibilities in fact, BYU will still host the 2009 NCAA Final Four next year, a bid officials received last fall but underplayed throughout the investigation.
Cala joined BYU for the 2006 and '07 seasons. He was held out of the first eight games of the '06 season by the NCAA, likely the course-cost violation that initiated further inquiry.
On Sept. 1, 2006, BYU announced the resignation of Peterson, whose 2004 NCAA title at BYU and 1994 nation championship at Penn State made him the first coach to lead two different programs to NCAA men's volleyball crowns.Assistant coach Shawn Patchell and former BYU All-American Ryan Millar were named interim head coaches for the 2007 season. Millar left last summer to continue his pro and Olympic playing careers, and Patchell remained the interim coach as BYU was hesitant to announce a head coach while the investigation continued.
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