NCAA accepts Baylor's penalties
WACO, Texas -- The NCAA put Baylor on three years of probation Wednesday after an investigation turned up hundreds of impermissible telephone calls and text messages sent to prep recruits by coaches and assistants on the basketball teams.
The violations were considered to be major infractions, and they were announced less than a week after the Lady Bears won the national championship with the first 40-0 season in NCAA history.
Any compliance-related mistakes, even those that are secondary, are disappointing. The majority of mistakes in this matter were errors in sending text messages and failure to accurately document our phone calls.” -- Baylor women's basketball coach
Still, it could have been much worse for Baylor. All of the penalties were proposed by the school and accepted by the NCAA after a review of nearly 900,000 phone and text message records found that 738 texts and 528 calls were against the rules.
The NCAA said men's coach Scott Drew failed to monitor his program and will be suspended for two Big 12 games next season, in addition to recruiting restrictions. Women's coach Kim Mulkey also received recruiting restrictions.
"I believe strongly in following NCAA rules and will always try to do so in the future," Mulkey said in a statement released by the school. "I do nothing without permission from our compliance office and will continue to ask questions to assure that things are done right. Any compliance-related mistakes, even those that are secondary, are disappointing. The majority of mistakes in this matter were errors in sending text messages and failure to accurately document our phone calls."
Men's assistant coaches Paul Mills and Jerome Tang also were named in the report along with women's assistant coach Damion McKinney.
Among the self-imposed penalties:
• Mulkey -- whose 2011-12 squad went 40-0 and won the NCAA title -- will be prohibited from recruiting off campus for the entire summer recruiting period (July 1-31).
• The women's basketball program lost two of its 15 scholarships in 2011-12.
• McKinney hasn't been allowed to make recruiting calls to prospective student-athletes since Jan. 1. The ban will be lifted on May 1.
• The men's program lost one scholarship for both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.
• Drew will be suspended for the first two Big 12 games of the season.
• Drew and Tang were prohibited from making recruiting calls from Jan. 1 to Feb. 29 of this year.
• The maximum number of official visits allowed to the men's basketball team in 2012-13 was reduced from 12 to seven.
Baylor will have no more additional penalties other than those it self-imposed.
The report put a bit of a damper on what has been an extraordinary run of success for Baylor athletics.
Besides Baylor's win over Notre Dame for the women's title, Drew's team won a school-record 30 games and reached the NCAA regional finals, where the Bears lost to eventual national champion Kentucky. And all that came after star quarterback Robert Griffin III became the school's first Heisman Trophy winner following a football season that included 10 wins for the first time since 1980.
Mulkey was named the AP's national coach of the year and junior Brittney Griner was its player of the year. How Baylor recruited Griner, one of the most dominant women's players in college basketball history, was part of the NCAA probe.
A school report obtained by ESPN.com said Mulkey and her staff committed minor NCAA violations for having impermissible contact with Griner and her family. During a 2007 camp, coaches spoke with the Griners about the basketball program, academic requirements and the school in general both before and after the camp.
Mulkey also reportedly broke NCAA rules when she sat next to Griner's father and discussed what the Baylor experience would be like. Brittney Griner, who is from the Houston area, played on the same AAU team as Mulkey's daughter, Makenzie Robertson.
The NCAA report did not mention Griner or her family by name, though Mulkey addressed it in her statement.
"The other matters were related to my daughter's participation in summer basketball," she said. "While I am and will always be a mother first, I do recognize that there has to be a balance between my role as a mother of a prospect and my role as a head coach. I have always tried to strike that balance and appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate to the NCAA staff such balancing efforts dating back to when Makenzie was in the seventh grade. I am pleased that my efforts to find the appropriate balance between a mother and a coach were recognized."
"I sincerely apologize to Baylor University and Baylor Nation. I learned a very valuable lesson in this case. In my 13 years of coaching at NCAA institutions, I have not intentionally violated NCAA rules. I will grow from this experience with a better understanding of NCAA rules."” -- Mark Morefield, former Baylor men's assistant coach
Griner said she had "made it clear to the NCAA staff and everyone else" that she had chosen Baylor early in the recruiting process.
The NCAA's investigation also determined that former men's assistant Mark Morefield committed a major violation when he attempted to influence two AAU coaches to furnish the NCAA with false and misleading information regarding a series of text messages. Morefield, who resigned in July 2011, faces a one-year "show cause" order that effectively prevents him from coaching at an NCAA school.
"I sincerely apologize to Baylor University and Baylor Nation. I learned a very valuable lesson in this case," Morefield said in a statement released Thursday. "In my 13 years of coaching at NCAA institutions, I have not intentionally violated NCAA rules. I will grow from this experience with a better understanding of NCAA rules."
The NCAA violations come nine years after Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy was found shot to death after he had been missing for six weeks. Teammate Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty to murder. The ensuing investigation uncovered NCAA violations, illegal tuition payments and unreported failed drug tests that led to the resignation of coach Dave Bliss, who was secretly recorded by an assistant coach while trying to persuade others to cover up misdeeds by portraying Dennehy as a drug dealer.
Athletic director Ian McCaw said the school has made "significant investments in compliance staffing and infrastructure" since the investigation began.
Drew said he took full responsibility for the violations, saying many were simply the result of improperly logging or failing to log calls to recruits. He noted that the school has a new software tracking system to assist coaches with the logistics.
"I came to Baylor in 2003 to do a job: rebuild a program decimated by very serious NCAA rules violations and tragedy," he said. "I promised to rebuild the program in a way Baylor could be proud -- morally, academically and, finally, athletically, and we continue on that journey today."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.