Cajuns and the NCAA – Answers to Some Questions
The news broken on Sunday by theadvertiser.com and reporter Tim Buckley let us all know the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns football program is in hot water with the NCAA after a former assistant coach is alleged to have facilitated student-athletes qualifying ACT scores.
The NCAA says it happened. The school agrees. It's considered to be an egregious violation. In addition, the assistant coach is accused to giving false information to investigators and refusing to cooperate with the investigation. That's not a good thing, either.
The charges also suggest the former assistant paid the living expenses of a prospective student athlete. The University denies the NCAA allegation.
And, of course, a lot of questions have been asked about what's coming.ee If you want to know the answers (and understand legalese), the notice of allegations and UL's response are both available on the school's website.
But, through conversations, internet message boards and social media, there are still a lot of questions being raised. Based on the information on the website and knowing what we know about past investigations, here are some answers.
SO, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? -- At some point, before the new year and maybe even before Thanksgiving, university officials will meet with the Committee on Infractions at a place to be determined.
WHO WILL BE THERE? -- According to the notice of allegations, Athletics Director Scott Farmer, Director of Compliance Dr. Jessica Leger, Faculty Athletics Representative Anita Hazlewood and Head Football Coach Mark Hudspeth will be required to attend. It won't be a surprise if President Dr. Joe Savoie is there as well.
WHO ARE THESE FOLKS ON THE COMMITTEE? --Without getting into specific names, the Committee is not employed by the NCAA. It is a volunteer committee, much like the NCAA Basketball Selection Committee. They are faculty reps, athletics administrators and others who serve without compensation. Almost all of them have other jobs.
WHO ELSE WILL BE THERE?-- The NCAA enforcement staff. These are the folks who conducted the investigation.
HOW DOES IT WORK? -- The Enforcement Staff presents the evidence for each of the allegations. The University presents its evidence as well. The Committee can ask as many questions as they want. Then they move on to the next allegation. This continues until all of the allegations are submitted and both sides have a chance to present its findings. The Committee can (and will) challenge both sides with questions. And they'll keep asking questions until they are satisfied.
AND THEN? -- The COI will decide whether the penalties that were self imposed by UL are sufficient. They have the right to add to the penalties if they deem appropriate.
HOW LONG WILL THAT TAKE --Generally speaking, decisions are rendered 8-10 weeks after the meeting.
IS THE TIMING HERE OF IMPORTANCE? --Absolutely. National Signing Day is in February. There will be a ton of negative recruiting going on. And, you can bet those recruiters will be telling prospective student-athletes about how the NCAA is about to REALLY bring the hammer down. You'd figure UL would like to have all this made public by then so the facts of the sanctions are known. Otherwise, prospects might really believe some of the ridiculous stuff they are already hearing.
WHY ARE THE CAJUNS VACATING 2011? - Usually, a team will vacate wins in which an ineligible player was used. It's pretty obvious, based on the report, there were a couple of student-athletes involved in this investigation that played during the 2011 season. And, one can deduce if UL is vacating everything from 2011, there was an ineligible player used in every game.
WHAT DOES VACATING MEAN? --Well, it's like it didn't exist. It used to be, schools had to forfeit those games which means, technically, you lost games that you won. Now, they are simply vacated. You won't find those wins in the record books (officially, the 2011 record would be 0-4), there will be no mention of the New Orleans Bowl title (the record book will say champion: vacated) and that trophy will not be able to be displayed. But, the NCAA can't take away the memory of Brett Baer's kick going through the uprights and the players who participated won't ever have to forget the celebration.
CAN THE NCAA COME DOWN HARDER ON THE CAJUNS? --Yep. UL has denied the allegation of improper payment to a student-athlete. If the COI deems the violation occurred, they can come down even harder, including a postseason ban. There is a possibility other games in other seasons may have to be vacated as well. (UL has admitted an ineligible player played during the following season, but it was sparingly and after the game had been decided.)
DOES THIS AFFECT THE 2015 POSTSEASON?-- No. The Cajuns can still be selected to play in a bowl game this season, since the final decision won't come until after the season ends. The Cajuns did not self-impose a postseason ban.
WHAT'S THE GOOD NEWS?--Well, the Notice of Allegations compliments the University for its proactive response and total and complete cooperation from the get-go. Trust me when I say that means a lot, and will most certainly be taken into consideration by the COI. Also, head coach Mark Hudspeth and recruiting coordinator Reed Stringer have not been accused of any wrongdoing, nor is there any evidence that suggests either of them knew anything about the improprieties. Now, there will be a perception the program and Hud will have to overcome. But there's a difference between perception and fact.