The NCAA hit Charleston Southern with a two-year probation and a loss of football scholarships on Tuesday after a review of CSU's athletic department revealed a "failure to monitor its athletics program," and failure or unwillingness to comply with needed corrections in its compliance department.
In a detailed review of numerous violations within the program, the NCAA placed the athletic department on a two-year probation, beginning Oct. 18. It also reduced the number of football scholarships by six over the next two years and fined the school $5,000, plus one-half of one percent of the school’s total athletic budget.
It is likely the school will also vacate wins in several sports from 2011-17. That could include wins in football and basketball, including the two Big South Conference championships won in football during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. CSU has 45 days to research and report past participation records to determine which ineligible athletes participated in victories in various sports.
According to the Big South, Charleston Southern won conference titles in softball, men's golf, women's tennis and football (2015 and 2016) during the time in question. The men's basketball team won regular-season Big South titles in 2012-13 and 2014-15.
In its report, the NCAA found that the school improperly certified 55 student-athletes in 12 sports over a six-year period, which is a Level II violation.
The report states, “CSU first became aware of deficiencies in its compliance operations in 2011, after the Big South Conference completed an audit of CSU's compliance program. While the report praised CSU's lone compliance director's performance, it also noted the need for written certification policies, additional staff and the development of a formal rules education program.
"According to CSU, however, it did not have the time and resources to appropriately address the recommendations," the report continued. "Instead, CSU continued to use an informal eligibility process, reassigned non-compliance staff to assist with certification and failed to develop formal rules education.”
According to the report, CSU said it was unable to hire "additional resources due to losing over 10 million dollars as a victim of a Ponzi scheme," a reference to the scheme run by former CSU professor Al Parrish.
As examples of improperly certified student-athletes, the NCAA cited:
• Six junior college transfers who competed while ineligible due to not meeting transfer eligibility requirements.
• A four-year college transfer who competed in his first year at CSU "without having satisfied any four-year transfer exception."
• Seven student-athletes who competed while ineligible due to not meeting "percentage-of-degree" requirements."
• Four student-athletes who competed "without maintaining enrollment in a minimum full-time program of studies leading to a baccalaureate or equivalent degree."
The NCAA report also said that CSU and its bookstore also allowed 34 athletes to improperly use scholarship book monies for items not related to books, such as electronics, jewelry and clothing. The 34 players received impermissible benefits totaling $11,962, ranging from $100 to $922. That's an average of about $351 per player.
The players cited served game suspensions during the 2016 football season.
The report cites “the presence of additional systemic failures in administering and monitoring book scholarships and the fact that CSU became aware of compliance pitfalls and neglected to adequately address them." as a Level II violation.
CSU athletic director Jeff Barber would not comment Monday, according to a school spokesman.
When he was hired last summer, Barber said, "Upon my arrival to CSU in June of 2018, I was made fully aware of the NCAA situation. The entire university fully cooperated with both the NCAA and the Big South Conference. I feel extremely confident that the necessary steps have been taken and we will continue our due diligence to operate at the highest level of compliance that we possibly can."
Jeff Hartsell contributed to this report.