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All ECU Athletics Placed On NCAA Probation

We're learning more about how East Carolina University investigated allegations of academic fraud, which led to the suspension and dismissal of 5 student athletes and the NCAA imposing a one year probation for the entire athletic department.

East Carolina University students say they're shocked, but not surprised by the discovery 4 baseball players paid a female tennis player to write their papers for them. A report released by the NCAA shows the university was notified in March of last year, and immediately investigated the claims.

Two suspensions and two dismissals later, the report was handed over to the NCAA April 28th of 2010 and reviewed by a NCAA committee on March 24th of this year. The findings were released Thursday. Students say the news places negative light on the university as a whole.

"I think overall that's wrong, but I don't believe everyone should reap the punishment from certain individuals," said ECU students Michael Rogers.

The university sports teams are on one year probation until May 18, 2012
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PREVOIUS STORY:
All East Carolina University sports programs have been put on a one year probation by the NCAA after four baseball players and a women's tennis player committed academic fraud.

The NCAA says while working as an academic tutor in the athletics department, the involved women’s tennis player wrote papers for the four baseball players, who submitted the work as their own. The academic fraud included writing a paper for two of the student-athletes, eight papers for another plus a PowerPoint presentation for a fourth student-athlete.

To read the full NCAA report, click the link at the top of the story.

ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard is chairman of a task force looking into academic integrity in athletics for the UNC system. The group was formed after incidents of academic misconduct sidelined several football players at UNC. An ECU spokeswoman says the chancellor is on vacation and unavailable for additional comment.

ECU is also getting a public reprimand and censure, and three of those athletes are ruled permanently ineligible to play. Two others are ruled ineligible for competition. The university must also vacate all wins in which the athletes competed in the 2009-10 season.

The terms of probation do not prohibit postseason play in any sport. No recruiting sanctions, scholarship reductions or monetary penalties were imposed. ECU will be required during the year to notify all baseball and women’s tennis prospects that the school is on probation.

Last March freshman infielder Bryan Bass and freshman pitcher Tyler Joyner were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Then on April 2nd, 2010 junior pitcher Stihl Sowers and shortstop Dustin Harrington were dismissed from the team for violating unspecified team rules.

ECU self-reported the violations to the NCAA and announced the results this afternoon.

In a prepared statement, ECU Chancellor Steve Ballard said, “ECU is embarrassed by the unacceptable academic fraud committed by a few student athletes who acted on their own volition. We have implemented numerous corrective actions and we will continually improve our practices with the intention of being one of the best universities in terms of academic integrity and compliance.”


Previous Story

East Carolina University says it will address the results of a self-report to the NCAA.

WITN has learned that the self-report involves the ECU baseball team. Last March freshman infielder Bryan Bass and freshman pitcher Tyler Joyner were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules. Then on April 2nd, 2010 junior pitcher Stihl Sowers and shortstop Dustin Harrington were dismissed from the team for violating unspecified team rules.

Provost Marilyn Sheerer will hold a news conference at 3:00 p.m. today at Mendenhall Student Center.


ECU News Release

ECU accepts NCAA penalties for self-reported violations

East Carolina University announced today it has accepted athletic program penalties imposed by the NCAA for self-reported academic fraud violations in 2010, including a reprimand and one year of probation.

“ECU is embarrassed by the unacceptable academic fraud committed by a few student athletes who acted on their own volition,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard. “We have implemented numerous corrective actions and we will continually improve our practices with the intention ofbeing one of the best universities in terms of academic integrity and compliance.”

The terms of probation do not prohibit postseason play in any sport. No recruiting sanctions, scholarship reductions or monetary penalties were imposed.

In spring of last year ECU investigated and reported to the NCAA academic fraud violations by athletes on the baseball and women’s tennis teams. The NCAA news release, posted on its website Thursday, May 19, stated the violations involved four baseball student-athletes and one women’s tennis student-athlete. While working as an academic tutor in the athletics department, the involved women’s tennis player wrote papers for the four baseball players, who submitted the work as their own, the NCAA stated.

The release said the academic fraud included writing a paper for two of the student-athletes, eight papers for another plus a PowerPoint presentation for a fourth student-athlete.

The NCAA accepted ECU’s investigation of the violations and its findings rather than conducting its own inquiry. In its letter informing ECU of the penalties, the NCAA noted it chose to reduce the term of probation from two years to one because of ECU’s response and because of immediate steps the university took to improve compliance.

Those practices include:

* Hiring an additional senior compliance officer. Jamie Johnson, formerly of Rutgers University, began work in February. Johnson reports directly to the chancellor.
* Student-athletes are no longer hired as tutors in the Student Development Office within the athletics department.
* The Division of Academic Affairs, not athletics, oversees the Student Development Office.
* More rigorous training for tutors, and student-athletes, that clearly defines behaviors that constitute academic fraud and violations of academicintegrity. The consequences of such violations are explicitly spelled out.

ECU, its coaches and its employees did the right thing at a difficult moment, Provost Marilyn Sheerer said at a press conference.

“The record shows we responded quickly, investigated vigorously, immediately self-reported violations and took decisive corrective steps without being asked,” Sheerer said.

“We have great confidence in baseball coach Billy Godwin and women’s tennis coach Tom Morris and in the integrity of the programs,” Sheerer said.

Terry Holland, ECU director of athletics, said, “This has been a traumatic event for our athletic program that has negatively impacted the lives of young student-athletes and embarrassed us all. While the athletics department’s response was immediate and appropriate, as recognized by the NCAA, it is critically important that the safeguards and guidelines implemented to educate our student-athletes are sufficient to prevent future problems.”

Conference USA gave ECU a vote of confidence.

“We are pleased with the way this difficult situation was managed,” said Britton Banowsky, C-USA commissioner. “The university took swift and decisive action to not only address the immediate issue, but put safeguards in place to prevent it from happening again. Their response was excellent.”

Chancellor Ballard chairs a special UNC Task Force on Athletics and Academics examining ways to strengthen athletic programs and ensure the academic success of student athletes. The Task Force is set to make recommendations this summer.

The terms of probation for ECU require the baseball team to vacate 17 games in which the athletes participated while ineligible. The women’s tennis team will vacate eight matches. ECU will be required during the year to notify all baseball and women’s tennis prospects that the school is on probation. It also must provide a compliance report to the committee on infractions. And, it must file a letter from the chancellor at the end of the probation period affirming that athletics policies and procedures conform to NCAA regulations.


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