NCAA puts UTC athletic department on probation

NCAA puts UTC athletic department on probation

September 23rd, 2010 by John Frierson in Local - Breaking News

The NCAA announced Thursday that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic department has been put on probation for two years due to excessive "impermissible text messages and telephone calls" involving several sports, primarily football and men's basketball.

UTC self-reported the majority of the infractions and also self-imposed numerous penalties, all of which were implemented during the 18-month investigation. The NCAA's probation penalty does not ban any UTC sports from the postseason nor does it prohibit the Mocs from appearing on television.

Athletic director Rick Hart told the Times Free Press the NCAA inquiry, which began in January 2009, has "been a very difficult process to go through, but through this process we've identified some weaknesses, some areas in need of improvement, some mistakes that occurred in our program."

The initial violations were detected when in August 2008 when UTC began implementing a new system for tracking coaches' calls to recruits. During the compliance staff's audit of former football recruiting coordinator Jason McManus' phone records, text and call violations were discovered.

That led to a wider audit, at the NCAA's request, and ultimately it was discovered that men's basketball coach John Shulman, as well as members of his staff, had made impermissible phone calls and text messages.

In the NCAA's report, the Committee on Infractions determined that the "institution failed to monitor coaches' communications" with recruits and that Shulman both "did not promote an atmosphere of compliance" within his program and "at times, he did not protect the integrity of the investigation."

UTC's self-imposed penalty for the men's basketball violations included a loss of one scholarship for the 2010-11 season and the entire staff was prohibited from having any recruiting contact during a 17-week period from November 2009 to March 2010.

The other two sports involved were men's tennis (three calls, one text) and women's baskteball (one call).

According to the NCAA, this is the UTC athletic program's second major infractions case ever, the previous one coming in 1966 involving the football program.

For more on the Mocs, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.

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