An appeal of the NCAA’s punishment of the University of Missouri for academic fraud could stretch into the summer.
All filings in the appeal will have been turned into the NCAA by May 18, according to an ABC 17 News review of the rules. This assumes that each side, including the school, NCAA and its enforcement team, wait until the deadline of each filing.
University leaders said on Thursday that they plan on appealing the punishment handed down by the NCAA for a tutor completing work for 12 student athletes during the 2015-2016 school year. This includes athletes on the football, baseball and softball team. Among the penalties the NCAA handed down is a postseason ban for those three sports.
Any punishment appealed will automatically be suspended, according to the NCAA rules. The punishments then will become final when the five-member Infractions Appeals Committee rules on the issue, either sustaining the original punishments or reducing them. The rules do not specify how long the committee has to decide on the issue after receiving the information.
If the appeals process does extend into May, it could allow both the baseball and softball teams to participate in postseason play. The SEC tournament for softball begins May 7, while the conference tournament for baseball begins May 21.
Mizzou Athletic Director Jim Sterk told reporters on Thursday that he anticipated the process could take as long as six months. He said he expected to receive some punishment, such as probation and giving up program wins from the time period in question, but was surprised by other punishments.
“I certainly don’t think these penalties are reflective or expected for self-reporting and that kind of cooperation,” Sterk said.
The NCAA did not hand down postseason bans for other schools found responsible for academic fraud. Georgia Southern University got two years of probation in 2016, along with recruitment and scholarship restrictions after a compliance staff member gave a football player completed class assignments to turn in.
The basketball program of Northern Colorado University received three years of probation and had to vacate its wins during that time for a wide-ranging academic and financial fraud scheme from its coaching staff. UNC self-imposed a postseason ban that year.
The NCAA cited both of these cases in coming up with its punishment for MU. While the NCAA gave the school kudos for turning itself in when it discovered the fraud, it said MU did not have proper controls in place to catch it from happening.
“Missouri’s culture of compliance did not compel her to come forward right away,” the report said. “Instead, she felt comfortable continuing to complete work on behalf of a total of 12 student-athletes over an entire year. Further, without her change of heart, she may have continued to complete work on behalf of student-athletes without Missouri’s knowledge.”
Sterk said he did not plan on making any changes to its academic compliance in light of the NCAA report.
“We really emphasize the point of winning it right and having the right culture,” Sterk said. “We’ve continued to do that, and we’ve continued to educate.”