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NCAA: Arkansas State agrees to penalties for violations in football, women’s soccer programs

Michelle Brutlag Hosick, NCAA, Press Release

Arkansas State agreed that it failed to monitor its women's soccer program, which impermissibly provided travel expenses for families of recruits during official visits, according to a negotiated resolution released by an NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel. An additional tampering violation occurred in the football program when former assistant football staff member Nick Montgomery and former assistant coach Jon Shalala contacted a Division II student-athlete who had not entered the NCAA Transfer Portal.

The parties also agreed that women's soccer head coach Brian Dooley and football head coach Butch Jones violated head coach responsibility rules as a result of the violations in their respective programs.

The school, Dooley and the enforcement staff agreed that the majority of the violations in this case occurred when Dooley misapplied recruiting rules by arranging for and paying for the travel expenses for the parents of 10 recruits while those prospects attended official visits at the campus. In total, approximately $4,144 in impermissible benefits — which constitute recruiting inducements — were provided to the families of the prospects. As a result, four student-athletes went on to compete in 82 games and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible.

Because of his direct involvement in the violations and failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance, Dooley violated head coach responsibility rules.

Arkansas State and the enforcement staff also agreed that because the school's compliance department did not identify the impermissible benefits, despite approving expense reports for the visits that included the arrangements for parents, the school failed to monitor its women's soccer program.

Additionally, the school, Montgomery, Shalala, Jones and the enforcement staff agreed that a tampering violation occurred in the football program when Montgomery contacted a Division II football student-athlete who was not in the Transfer Portal and arranged for him to speak on the phone and subsequently in person with Shalala.

Beginning in January 2023, head coaches are responsible for the conduct of their staff. Because the impermissible contact occurred in April 2023, the head coach responsibility violation automatically attached to Jones. However, because Jones was not directly aware of or involved in the violations and because he demonstrated that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance and monitored his staff, the parties declined to prescribe a penalty. 

The parties used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree upon Level II-mitigated penalties for the university and Dooley and Level II-standard penalties for Shalala and Montgomery. The decision contains the full list of penalties as approved by the Committee on Infractions, including:

• One year of probation.

• A $15,000 fine.

• A reduction in official visits for the women's soccer program during the 2023-24 academic year by 10 percent from the school's average visits provided during the previous four years.

• A four-week reduction in off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations in the women's soccer program.

• A reduction of official visits in the football program by three during the 2023-24 academic year.

• A two-week reduction in off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations for the entire football coaching staff during the spring 2024 off-campus recruiting period. 

• A two-week ban on unofficial visits for the football program during the 2024-25 academic year.

• A suspension from one regular-season game during the 2024-25 women's soccer season for Dooley.

• A one-year show-cause order for Shalala. During the show-cause order, any employing member school shall suspend Shalala from two games and impose a two-week off-campus recruiting ban.

• A one-year show-cause order for Montgomery. During the show-cause order, any employing member school shall suspend Montgomery for one week from all athletically related responsibilities.

• A vacation of all women's soccer records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. 

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Cassandra Kirk, chief magistrate judge in Fulton County, Georgia; Jason Leonard, executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma and chief hearing officer for the panel; and Stephen Madva, attorney in private practice. 

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