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UAlbany Officials Address NCAA Decision on Baseball, Football Programs

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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ALBANY, N.Y. (January 27, 2009) -- The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Committee on Infractions accepted the University at Albany's findings and self-imposed corrective actions and penalties related to rules violations by staff of the University's baseball and football teams. The NCAA's report found the case to be narrow in scope.

In December 2007, during a routine monitoring of recruiting activities under its NCAA Athletics Rules Compliance Program, the University discovered impermissible text messages sent to recruits by some members of the football coaching staff in violation of a recently enacted NCAA rule that banned such electronic communications. Subsequent monitoring revealed additional text messages by the head baseball coach who misunderstood the limited exceptions to the ban.

Upon discovering the violations, the University took immediate action to prevent further violations, implemented appropriate corrective action and promptly notified the NCAA. UAlbany worked closely with NCAA enforcement staff to finalize the process.

With respect to the violations involving the football team, the University disabled the text-messaging feature on the recruiting software tool used by the football staff and through which the majority of the impermissible text messages were sent, restricted the football staff's ability to recruit during the key football recruiting contact period for 2008, and reported the infractions, including a series of additional self-imposed corrective actions and penalties, to the NCAA. Further, given the nature of the violations, the University concluded that a two-year probationary period consisting of attention to enhanced rules education and compliance monitoring and the submission of annual written reports to the NCAA was appropriate.

In the baseball matter the University also reported the violations to the NCAA and immediately self-imposed corrective actions including deactivation of the texting capabilities on the head coach's cell phone,  a one-year ban on off-campus recruiting by the coach and a reduction by one in the number of allowable grants-in-aid in the baseball program for the 2009-2010 academic year.

"We thank the NCAA and committee members for their fairness in accepting our recommendations of restrictions for our football and baseball teams," said George M. Philip, Interim President. "We are committed to educating our coaches, staff, and student athletes to ensure that all of our athletics teams are in compliance with NCAA regulations."

The discovery, self-reporting and response to these violations is a testament to the University's commitment to rules compliance in its athletics programs. The NCAA enforcement staff, in working with the University to confirm the limited scope of the violations, lauded the University for maintaining a highly accessible and visible compliance staff, which made daily visits to the athletics offices in order to be readily available to and observant of its coaches. The NCAA also acknowledged that a finding of a lack of institutional control over the athletic programs was not warranted because of the limited scope of the violations, the University's efforts to educate staff on the applicable NCAA rule and its swift response once the infractions were discovered.

"The entire athletics department at UAlbany will continue to review and regularly monitor text messaging throughout its entire intercollegiate athletics program," said Lee McElroy, Vice President of Athletic Administration and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. "The compliance office regularly reviews NCAA regulations with coaches and staff, and takes corrective actions when necessary. It was through effective monitoring that the infractions were detected and corrected."

UAlbany remains committed to maintaining full compliance with NCAA regulations. The regular review of coaches' cellular phone records is an important element of the system for monitoring recruiting that is engaged and functioning at the University. UAlbany will continue to report any infractions that may occur despite best efforts, and seek to keep coaches and staff up-to-date on NCAA policies for athletics.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 18,000 students. An internationally recognized research university with 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.

Kelly Virkler, '09, Department of Chemistry
UAlbany Students

In three and a half years at UAlbany, Kelly Virkler leaves with a Ph.D. and international attention for groundbreaking work related to crime scene forensic evidence.

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