Alabama A&M University (AAMU) has been placed on NCAA probation following an investigation into the miscertification of student-athletes.
Alabama A&M improperly certified 101 student-athletes in nearly all of the university’s sport programs, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.
The university’s certification process failed in several areas, the committee noted in its report. First, staff members lacked the necessary experience, rules education and training to complete certifications. Making proper certification even more difficult, the university provided little rules education to the registrar and those outside of athletics responsible for certifying eligibility. The university also did not involve the appropriate staff members from outside of athletics in the certification process. Lastly, the university did not correctly apply NCAA eligibility certification rules.
In addition to the 101 student-athletes who competed while ineligible, the university also did not withhold 60 of the student-athletes from the subsequent year’s competition before they were reinstated.
The panel noted that after the extensive and widespread certification failures, the university took meaningful corrective action after it learned of the violations. Although resources may present challenges to certification processes, it is a fundamental responsibility for Division I members. The panel added that members must ensure appropriately trained individuals certify student-athletes, certification involves appropriate touchpoints throughout the university, and that staff correctly apply NCAA rules.
The panel used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:
- Five years of probation from Sept. 11, 2018, through Sept. 10, 2023.
- A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible.
- A 2018-19 postseason ban for the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf teams.
- Scholarship reductions for the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf teams.
- Recruiting restrictions for the 2018-19 academic year, including:
A 13-week ban on unofficial visits and recruiting communications with prospects in all programs in which the violations occurred.
A 25 percent reduction in official paid visits in all programs in which the violations occurred.
A 13-week ban on all off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations in programs in which the violations occurred except for men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s golf and women’s volleyball.
A 25 percent reduction in recruiting or evaluation days for men’s and women’s basketball, football, men’s golf and women’s volleyball.
- The university may not recruit two-year college transfers who would enroll during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
- A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university), plus 1 percent of the annual budgets of the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf programs.
In response to the review by the NCAA, AAMU has implemented a centralized integrated process for reviewing and validating a student's eligibility to compete. AAMU has established a cross-functional team that is responsible for the certification of student-athletes four times a year, improved communication with weekly eligibility meetings between the academic and compliance business functions, as it relates to both initial and continuing academic eligibility certifications and hired professionals with demonstrated academic and/or compliance experience in a sanctioned university athletic program.