NCAA responds to infractions by ex-coach

For the second time in less than three years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has found Southeastern guilty of violations and has imposed punishments on the university. 

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions released a report on April 9 that claims there were multiple infractions made by the Southeastern Women’s Volleyball program in 2013.

“This case centered on impermissible athletically related activity that took place outside of the institution’s declared playing season during the spring and summer of 2013. It also included impermissible lodging and tryouts for prospective student-athletes. A former head women’s volleyball coach arranged and, in some instances, observed the impermissible athletically related activity,” stated the NCAA in the report.

While the head coach was not in attendance for all of the illegal practices and workouts, the report claims a volunteer assistant acted as a coach during the period in question.

“Much of this impermissible activity also involved a former volunteer assistant women’s volleyball coach. Because of her activities and involvement, the former volunteer assistant women’s volleyball coach became a countable coach under NCAA legislation, a status that the head coach knew,” stated the NCAA in the report. 

Punishments stemming from the violation vary from fines to probation. Included in the penalties is a $5,000 fine the university must pay and restrictions on recruiting as imposed by the university. Southeastern also must educate coaches and all athletic department faculty on proper NCAA rules and regulations. The ruling also extended the current probation of the university one extra year. Probation is currently set to expire Dec. 9, 2018.

There was not much argument to the punishments set forth by the NCAA. According to the report, Southeastern agreed with al violations that were accused, while Geno Frugoli, who was the head coach at the time of the violations, agreed with all but one violation. 

“The institution agreed with all five of the violations set forth in this decision and the corresponding violation levels. The former head women’s volleyball coach substantially agreed with four of the five violations, including that he failed to fulfill the NCAA legislated responsibilities of the former head women’s volleyball coach,” stated the NCAA in the report.

Southeastern Athletic Director Jay Artigues released a statement addressing the violations and findings by the NCAA.

“Southeastern Louisiana University received final confirmation by the NCAA Infractions Committee that stemmed from self-reported violations related to recruiting and practice irregularities in the university’s women’s volleyball program during the spring and summer 2013,” said Artigues. “The university self-stated the five violations to the NCAA following a thorough internal investigation, which led to the resignation of the then-Head Volleyball Coach. Southeastern accepted the penalties and corrective actions imposed by the NCAA.”

There were several mitigating factors in the report that displayed the willing participation by the university and the athletic department in the investigation. The reports described the self-detection and self-disclosure by the violation as “prompt,” and noted the university showed “exemplary cooperation.”

Artigues mentioned said cooperation in his statement.

“Our athletics program is committed to complete compliance with all NCAA rules and legislation. Intentional disregard for the responsibility will be dealt with firmly and swiftly,” said Artigues. 

Making the case even more difficult for Southeastern was this ruling was the second time since 2013 that the university has been found to be in violation of NCAA rules and regulations. The university was found guilty by the NCAA of allowing 137 athletes compete despite not being academically eligible. Penalties from that violation ranged from a $25,000 fine to a loss of scholarships in several sports. 

Also receiving penalties from the NCAA was the then-head coach. For the next two years, Frugoli must attend NCAA Regional Rules Seminars to go along with a suspension of the first 30 percent of the regular season contests.

Now two seasons into the Jim Smoot era of Southeastern Volleyball and a recent trip into the Southland Conference tournament, hope of a brighter future remains for the Lady Lions and Southeastern athletics.