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Arizona State Violations Outlined and Reaction

On Wednesday afternoon, the Arizona State Baseball program learned of their punishment from the NCAA after seven major violations and two secondary violations from 2004 through 2009. This was Arizona State’s ninth major NCAA violation in school history, with previous cases taking place in 2005 (football), 1997 (men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track), 1988 (men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track), 1986 (men’s basketball), 1985 (baseball, men’s gymnastics, wrestling), 1980 (football, men’s track (indoor and outdoor), 1959 (football) and 1954 (football).

Major Violations

Violation 1: Impermissible Telephone Calls

Former Arizona State head coach Pat Murphy and several assistant coaches had impermissible phone calls with potential student-athletes from January 2004 through June 2009. The coaches violated the NCAA one-call-per-week rule with over 490 cases of this happening. They also made approximately 25 calls to a prospective student-athletes prior to July 1st following their junior year in high school. The NCAA Committee on Infractions deemed these violations major.

Violation 2: Violations of Recruiting and Financial Aid Legislation

The NCAA stated that former ASU head coach Pat Murphy violated the NCAA one call per week rule by making a total of four imperishable calls to the prospect in the fall of 2006. Murphy also sent a team manager to meet with this prospective student-athlete off campus and report the nature of his contact to the head coach. After the meeting, the student-athlete changed his verbal commitment from an SEC school to a NLI with ASU. In January 2007, Pat Murphy requested that four student-athletes participate in the “Devil to Devil” program in which current players give back their scholarship money to incoming recruits. The money would be then used to get that same incoming recruit into the program for the spring semester of 2007. This was a violation of NCAA rules as scholarships run from the fall through the end of the college baseball season and are renewable at the start of the school year. The NCAA Committee on Infractions found this violation as major.

Violation 3: Violations of Coaching Staff Limitations

From the 2004-2005 through the 2007-2008 academic years, the ASU program used an excess of coaches by having managers engage in on-field coaching activities on more then an occasional basis. Managers were providing technique and pitching mechanics participated in pitchers fielding practice, created a scouting report that included analysis on future opponents, and hit fungoes. Other managers were seen pitching batting practice, providing instruction in the bullpen and relaying pitching signals during games. The NCAA Committee on Infractions considered this violation as major.

Violation 4: Violations of Coaching Staff Limitations and Duties – Use of Outside Consultants

From the spring of 2004 through spring 2008, Arizona State used the staff of a privately-owned athletics training facility located on the institution’s campus to conduct physical conditioning activities with numerous baseball student-athletes without including the private facility’s staff in the limitations on the number of coaches. The NCAA stated that the value of this coaching was worth $60,000. The NCAA Committee on Infractions found this violation major.

Violation 5: Violations of Student-Athlete Employment Criteria – Payment for Work Not Performed.

Between September 2006 and November 2007, 20 baseball student-athletes employed by Pat Murphy’s own nonprofit organization received $5,889.34 for work they did not perform. This is very similar to the Georgetown case from last season in which they paid players for work not performed (LINK). The NCAA Committee on Infractions found this violation major.

Violation 6: Responsibility of Head Coach – Failure to Promote an Atmosphere for Compliance

Between January 2004 and June 2009, Pat Murphy failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance within the baseball program and failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance of the administrators involved with the baseball program who reported to him in connection with the violations outlined above. The NCAA Committee on Infractions found this violation as major.

Violation 7: Lack of Institutional Control

Arizona State violated the principles of institutional control in that it failed to ensure adequate systems to monitor for compliance and provide adequate NCAA rules education involving the baseball program, and student-athletes, as it relates to the violations outlined above. The NCAA Committee on Infractions found this violation as major.

Secondary Violations

1. From the fall of 2004 through the fall of 2007, the former head coach impermissibly used the services of a sports physical therapy and conditioning firm to provide functional and core-balance training to numerous baseball student-athletes without including the conditioning firm’s staff in the limitations on the number of coaches. This also constituted an extra benefit for those student-athletes who used the services of the conditioning firm’s staff, as they did not have to pay for such services

2. In January 2008, the institution conducted a baseball camp for six prospective student-athletes during a designated recruiting dead period. A volunteer baseball coach was the only institutional baseball coaching staff member present for the camp. The director of baseball operations incorrectly assumed that the camp had been approved by the institution’s compliance office.

Penalties

1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Three years of probation from December 15, 2010, through December 14, 2013.
3. Arizona State’s baseball team shall end the Championship Segment of its 2011 season with the playing of its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition. Moreover, during the 2010-11 academic year, the baseball team may not take advantage of the exceptions to the limitation in the number of baseball contests that are provided in Bylaw 17.2.5.
4. Baseball grants-in-aid will be reduced by 2.0 for one year at the first opportunity but no later than 2011-12.

Reactions

Brian Foley, Editor of College Baseball Daily

I have spent many years in administration in athletic programs and find some of these violations absolutely disgusting. How does a head coach have over 400 impermissible phone calls to student-athletes without it being discovered? Why are players working for the head coach’s non-profit business? It can only get you in trouble.

I have seen multiple reports from writers saying that the current student-athletes are being punished because of the past transgressions. My question to you is how would you punish Arizona State’s administration for not having paperwork filled out correctly and not seeing way too many coaches during games in the dugouts?

Mark Rafferty, Assistant Editor, College Baseball Daily

When I was at Arizona State, it was common knowledge that baseball players were training at Athletes Performance Institute during the offseason.  The fact that Coach Murphy thought it was acceptable for his players to use it as their personal gymnasium and be able to get away with it is asinine.  The guy could never get the facilities he wanted, so he was able to exploit the use of a private facility looking to expand its brand name.  The “Devil to Devil” program probably sounded to a player and the family of a player like they were sacrificing for the good of the team, but it was really just Murphy just discarding older players to build his recruiting base.  Aside from that, Murphy routinely used the Arizona Community College system as his own minor league system.  Andre Ethier talks about it openly in the video below, he was recruited by Murphy, but then told there was no spot and that he should go play junior college ball at Chandler-Gilbert CC.  He then returned to Arizona State and thrived under Murphy for his Sophomore and Junior seasons, but he was an exceptional case.

Pat Murphy, Former Arizona State Head Coach

The NCAA report confirms what I stated since the first day of the investigation. “That I have NEVER intentionally or knowingly violated NCAA rules.” Now that the investigation is complete I am pleased that all can see whether violations were deemed major or secondary, there was no dishonesty or cheating and that no competitive advantage was sought. All of the violations were unintentional. My penalty of one year recruiting call restrictions indicates the NCAA realized that I was not the crux of the problem. Fortunately, the attempt to portray me as the sole responsible party has failed. Based on sanctions against the university its obvious that compliance is an ongoing problem. My evaluations and compliance record, including the ones done during the investigation speak volumes to my willingness to follow the rules. I do accept responsibility for not being well versed on some rules and interpretations, and the monitoring of my staff’s paperwork. I remind you that I was consistently applauded for my compliance record, in season ending reviews.

My reputation was called into question throughout this process. Now people will no longer have to speculate if I was intentionally breaking rules. I am responsible for making myself an easy target. My defensive behavior didn’t serve me well once the investigation started. While I was pleased to learn that I can coach in the NCAA immediately with a minor penalty, there is no happiness in seeing the program sanctioned. Due to the repeat offender status of the university, for its second lack of institutional control violation in a five-year span, the sanctions against the program are more harsh. The players’ achievements both on and off the field in recent years match the greatest era of ASU’s storied baseball history. Few programs in any sport can equal the rankings in the last six years.

The injustice of losing a top coaching position while the program was thriving has been a life and family changing experience. However, somehow I am grateful for having endured this and am certain it has taught me valuable lessons. Only the love for my children exceeds the passion for helping student-athletes develop in life. This process has educated me beyond what coaches typically understand. My hope is no other coach will have to endure this process based on the same kind of facts that precipitated this investigation.