MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia's athletic department and football program breathed a major sigh of relief Friday. The school has escaped any major sanctions in regard to the NCAA's investigation into its football program.
The NCAA issued its final report on the matter and accepted all of the school's self-imposed penalties without adding any additional ones. Aside from the stigma of a two-year probation, none of those sanctions are significant.
"I am pleased that the committee accepted the self-imposed penalties the university proposed, without imposing any additional ones,'' West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck said in a statement. "The university has already taken corrective action and put new systems in place to address all the issues raised."
The case stemmed from violations committed from 2005 through 2009 under WVU's last two head football coaches, Rich Rodriguez and Bill Stewart. The essence of the charges was that in both regimes, non-coaching staff members in the football program were permitted to conduct coaching activities. In general, that included non-coaching graduate assistants and so-called "quality control coaches'' who would supervise or monitor off-season workouts, sit in on coaches' meetings or watch videotape with players.
None of that is permissible under NCAA regulations.
The most significant of the findings, though, was that Rodriguez and Stewart were declared to have failed to monitor the activities within the program. The university itself was also found to have been guilty of the same infraction.
But even that is a victory for the program. In the initial list of charges against the school, Rodriguez and Stewart were charged with a "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.'' The "failure to monitor" finding is far less severe.
The self-imposed sanctions by the school include two years of probation (through July 7, 2013) and the reduction of one scholarship this season. The probation carries no restrictions on anything regarding bowl games, television appearances or recruiting.
It does, however, require the school to inform potential recruits of the school's probation and of the violations committed. It also requires the university to publish in its football media guide the information regarding the probation.
But aside from that the probation includes no other limitations or restrictions. It does require the university to develop an education program for athletic department personnel and file reports on the program with the NCAA during the probationary period.
As for the scholarship reductions, the school had already docked itself two scholarships during the just-completed school year and will reduce the number from the allowed 85 to 84 during the coming school year. In addition, WVU has eliminated two non-coaching graduate assistant positions.
The other sanctions have already been executed. The school scaled back its off-campus recruiters from seven to six during the 2011 spring recruiting season and from 10 to seven during last October's off week and reduced the amount of off-season workout time by 46.25 hours during the 2010 winter, spring and summer periods.
The school never had a hearing before the NCAA on the matter, instead choosing to dispose of it through summary disposition -- agreeing to the basics of the allegation and working with the NCAA to come to a conclusion. The two sides did so during a conference call on March 11, during which the NCAA's committee on infractions requested additional information. That information was accepted and the report was issued Friday.
"We have taken this case very seriously from the beginning and, as we've said, will move forward with a complete commitment to compliance in all that we do,'' Luck said. "We now look forward to an exciting football season and putting this process behind us.''Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.