HBO Allegations: Can NCAA Prosecute Auburn?

Tuesday I reported on an upcoming HBO Real Sports special on college sports - premiering tonight on HBO at 10p ET - that includes allegations by four ex-Auburn football players of activity that would certainly be considered NCAA violations.

NCAA Statute of Limitations

(Page 408 of current NCAA Division I rules handbook - pdf)

Many of those allegations emanated from former Auburn players Stanley McClover and Troy Reddick, who played football for the school during the early-to-mid 2000s.

With that in mind, can the NCAA prosecute Auburn for the alleged violations that may have occurred during that time?

Below is the official NCAA bylaw on the subject:

32.6.3 statute of Limitations. Allegations included in a notice of allegations shall be limited to possible violations occurring not earlier than four years before the date the notice of inquiry is forwarded to the institution or the date the institution notifies (or, if earlier, should have notified) the enforcement staff of its inquiries into the matter. However, the following shall not be subject to the four-year limitation: (Revised: 10/12/94, 4/24/03)

(a) Allegations involving violations affecting the eligibility of a current student-athlete;
(b) Allegations in a case in which information is developed to indicate a pattern of willful violations on the part of the institution or individual involved, which began before but continued into the four-year period; and
(c) Allegations that indicate a blatant disregard for the Association’s fundamental recruiting, extra-benefit, academic or ethical-conduct regulations or that involve an effort to conceal the occurrence of the violation. In such cases, the enforcement staff shall have a one-year period after the date information concerning the matter becomes available to the NCAA to investigate and submit to the institution a notice of allegations concerning the matter.

In talking to a director of compliance at a Big 12 school this morning about the subject, I was told that part (b) does not mean that the violations involving Reddick and McClover need to extend into the four-year period for the NCAA to take up the case. Possible violations involving Reddick and McClover need only “indicate a pattern” leading to more violations.

The allegations made by former Auburn players Chaz Ramsey and Raven Gray would indeed fall within the four-year period.

In other words, the NCAA would be well within its right, at least according to the compliance expert I talked to today, in penalizing Auburn for alleged violations that took place involving Reddick and McClover if it deemed Auburn to have been involved in a “pattern” of such activity.

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