Arkansas appears before NCAA board over track violations

LITTLE ROCK

The University of Arkansas has appeared before the NCAA infractions committee to answer allegations levied against its storied track and field program after a former assistant coach was convicted last year of embezzlement, the university said Tuesday.

Scott Varady, associate general counsel to the school, said the half-a-day hearing Saturday in Indianapolis focused on former assistant Lance Brauman, who resigned last year after his convictions.

Varady declined to discuss specifics of what transpired at the hearing, citing NCAA rules, but said the university remained confident the NCAA would view the school’s self-imposed penalties as sufficient.

“We believe this case is limited in scope,” Varady said. “It involved one assistant coach and one student athlete over a very short period of time. I think that’s important to note.”

Brauman was convicted in a federal case that stemmed from his tenure at Barton County Community College in Kansas. The case was part of a scandal that spawned charges against seven Barton County coaches and the athletic director, and led to the firing of the school’s president. Brauman was coaching at Arkansas when he was convicted. He resigned afterward.

Brauman received a year in prison for fraudulently using the federal work-study program to get around a Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference ban on giving athletes full-ride scholarships. He also sent false academic credentials to the University of Arkansas on an athlete’s behalf.

The athlete’s name was redacted in the school’s report, but Brauman’s mail fraud indictment said the criminal charges involved sprinting star Tyson Gay, who transferred from Barton County Community College to Arkansas.

The allegations against Brauman stunned Arkansas, which has won 42 national championships in track and field and cross country. In 21 of the past 23 years, the Razorbacks have won at least one national title, including an 18-year streak. The most recent came in the 2006 indoor season.

In a written statement Tuesday, university Chancellor John White stressed the infractions did not “contain any alleged violations of NCAA rules specifically against Head Coach John McDonnell” or other members of his staff.

“Nevertheless, as set forth in the institution’s response to the notice, the university acknowledged its responsibility for certain NCAA violations and detailed the meaningful corrective and punitive actions that it had instituted,” White said. “As I stated to the committee, the university accepts full responsibility for those violations.”

In a January report to the NCAA commission, the university acknowledged Brauman or his wife gave the student athlete impermissible transportation, arranged about $135 worth of lodging during the summer of 2003 before the athlete started at Arkansas and helped the student enroll in a correspondence course in a way that exceeded the assistance allowable under NCAA rules.

The university said Brauman also asked his sister-in-law to tutor the student and arranged two people to serve as proctors for tests in the correspondence course. Arkansas also reported that the athlete was unknowingly enrolled in a course at Barton County and received a grade.

If Gay had not graduated from a junior college, he would have been ineligible to enroll and participate in athletics at Arkansas. Since then, the former Razorback has won races on the international track scene in the 100- and 200-meter runs.

Arkansas’ self-imposed penalties included loss of three scholarships for 2007, 2008 and 2009, and the school also agreed not to recruit from junior colleges for those years. Varady said the NCAA committee would decide in six to eight weeks whether Arkansas’ sanctions would be sufficient.

– Associated Press



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