The Southern Illinois University women’s swimming & diving team has been placed on 3 years of probation, and had scholarships reduced, after a rules infraction, the NCAA announced on Friday.
The violations involved what the NCAA says was the diving coach Chunhua Zhao arranging ‘impermissible tryouts and lessons for prospects and two international student-athletes before and after they enrolled at the university,” and saying that the university failed to monitor the coach’s conduct.
The penalties levied on the program and coaches:
- 3-years probation
- $5,000 fine
- Reduction of scholarships for 2019-2020 and 2021-20222 academic years by 10% from average awarded from 2013 through 2017 (12.05) – meaning no more than 10.85 equivalencies for the next 3 years.
- Limited to 12 official visits for 2018-2019 through 2020-2021 seasons
- 6-week ban on recruiting communication during each academic year of the probationary period (at institution’s discretion)
- 6-week off-campus recruiting ban during the probationary period
- Show-Cause order against head swimming & diving coach Rick Walker until September 6, 2019 (meaning that any penalties could follow him to a new job)
- 1-meet suspension in the fall of 2017 for Rick Walker (university-imposed)
- 30%-of-maximum-allowed-competition-dates suspension for Walker in 2018-2019 season (6 days of suspension), meaning no communication with student-athletes or staff members on those dates
- 2-meet suspension in the fall of 2017 for Zhao (university-imposed)
- 5-competition-date suspension of diving coach during each of 2018-2019 through 2020-2021 seasons
- Public reprimand and censure
- Vacation of all team results earned with ineligible athletes (though individual results and awards for other team members can be retained).
- Coaches will attend NCAA Regional Rules Seminars in 2018 and 2019, at their own expense (university-imposed)
- Informing prospects of the violations and sanctions in writing
The violations occurred over a two year period, where the NCAA says that Zhao arranged for “fee-for-lesson” diving lessons for two student athletes, sisters, on a regular basis, along with other impermissible lessons “on a more limited basis.” The primary athletes at the center of the investigation were provided 30 reduced-cost diving lessons by Zhao between January 24, 2016 and August 19, 2016 at university facilities; while between August 22, 2016 and December 7, 2016, Zhao arranged for the then-volunteer diving coach to provide approximately 45 reduced-cost diving lessons.
All parties agreed to the facts of the case, and the Committee on Infractions concluded that violations occurred. The violation was classified as Level II-Standard for the institution and Level II-Aggravated for both the head coach Rick Walker’s and diving coach Chunhua Zhao’s violations.
Besides 3 years of probation, the school was also hit with a $5,000 fine, a reduction in women’s swimming and diving scholarships, vacation of records in women’s swimming, and a “show-cause” order for both coaches.
While the report has not named the student-athletes involved, and the school has not released what adjustments will be made to official records, Southern Illinois did have two divers, sisters, who fit the description of the athletes in the report on the roster last year. One, Baobao Ji, was the MVC Champion on the 3-meter and MVC Diver of the Year.
As a team, Southern Illinois finished 2nd out of 7 teams at last year’s Missouri Valley Conference Championship meet.
The impermissible lessons began when the two student-athletes first arrived on campus as prospects and continued after they enrolled at SIU as nonqualifers. The parties agree that the impermissible diving lessons resulted in recruiting and eligibility violations. Further, the student-athletes competed and received travel expenses while ineligible. More limited impermissible fee-for-lesson diving instruction also occurred with two other prospects and a younger individual. Further, the parties agreed that the scope and nature of these violations reflected that the head men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance and that he failed to monitor his staff. Finally, SIU and the enforcement staff agreed that the institution failed to monitor its women’s swimming and
Citation of related bylaws:
|I||2.8.1||Responsibility of Institution.|
|I||188.8.131.52||Responsibility of Head Coach.|
|I||12.11.1||Obligation of Member Institution to Withhold Student-Athlete From Competition.|
|I||184.108.40.206.1||Eligibility for Aid, Practice and Competition.|