The women’s cross country and track and field programs at Tennessee’s Lane College are facing two years of probation along with other sanctions as a result of NCAA violations committed in the 2016-2017 season. An incident involving an ineligible athlete competing under a false name led the NCAA DII Committee of Infractions to investigate the school’s athletic department, and their findings included wrongdoings on numerous occasions by the coaching and athletic staff.
A student-athlete on the Lane College women’s cross country team was deemed ineligible in the 2016-2017 season. Her ineligible status was communicated to coaches by the school’s athletic director as well as the compliance director. They claim that they clearly stated that this athlete was not to travel nor to compete with the team.
Lane College’s former head coach had directed his athlete to travel and compete, even receiving travel expenses (a clear and major violation), under a false name. She was entered into five separate cross country events as well as a spring track and field event, competing under the name of an injured teammate.
A school employee later approached the injured athlete and congratulated her on her top ten finish at a recent cross country event after having read her name in the meet results. The injured athlete informed the employee that she had not, in fact, competed in the meet in which she supposed had a top ten performance. This Lane College employee then reported the incident to the school’s NCAA compliance director.
The NCAA DII Committee of Infractions was eventually notified, they began investigating the situation on January 11, 2018, the start to what would become an eight-month compliance examination. All parties involved including staff, coaches and athletes submitted written accounts of the incidents. Since all written accounts agreed upon the facts of the violations, the lack of dispute allowed the proceedings to happen without a formal hearing.
The Committee of Infractions found Lane College responsible, stating that the college had failed to regulate the coach’s activities. In addition, they were deemed liable for failing to take action on the infractions even when red flags were present. After a spring 2017 track and field event, student-athletes raised issues with the athletic director, claiming that their coach had not fed them the day of competition. The ineligible runner was part of the group that expressed their concern about the coach, and this led to the compliance director being informed that she had competed unethically – however, there was still a lack of action taken.
A similar ruling was made by the COI back in 2013 in regards to an incident with the University of California San Diego’s women’s rowing team, setting a precedent for these types of violations. The San Diego coach was found to have allowed five ineligible athletes to compete. Two of these athletes did so under false names under the instruction of an assistant coach. The head coach was also found to have provided athletes with Voltaren, a prescription anti-inflammatory drug.
Both incidents were found to be a clear violation of NCAA Bylaw 10.1 Unethical Conduct. Section (i) of the bylaw states that “engaging in any athletics competition under an assumed name or with intent to otherwise deceive” is an unethical action. The COI concluded that by allowing ineligible athletes to compete, the program was receiving benefits that are not available to programs which are compliant with NCAA rules.
Lane College willingly admitted to failing to monitor its coaches. They also agreed that there was a lack of education of the staff on compliance rules. The travel logs reported were not monitored, allowing the ineligible athlete to compete in numerous events before it was realized that she was doing so under a false name.
The former Lane College head coach was a first time NCAA coach. However, he had a long-standing membership in the collegiate track and field community. His lack of honesty violated NCAA legislation under Bylaws 10 and 11. Even after he was no longer associated with Lance College, he committed additional violations by providing false information regarding the infractions.
In the case of the Lane College Cross Country and Track & Field program, the infractions were penalized by public reprimand and censure of the program. They also received two years of probation, a ban on postseason competition for the cross country and women’s track and field team in the 2019 season. It did not end there; they also had an elimination of records in which an ineligible athlete participated in competition, a compliance review, and a $2,500 fine. The former head coach is now also required to have any NCAA school that employs him to demonstrate to the NCAA why he should not be restricted in his involvement with athletic activities.
When doing research in the recruiting process for my daughter I came across the LRT Sports website. I was immediately intrigued as this was another dimension of the recruiting process that many people don't even consider. My daughter and I could "short list" schools based on the education she was looking for, as well as the opportunity to play her sport. LRT Sports not only gave us pertinent information into the recruiting process with different interviews of coaches and players, it also gave us insight into current and/or former players' opinions on the coach of that school in her sport. We could use this information to re-prioritize my daughters list of schools based on this feedback. I have many friends that are, or will be, going through this process shortly and I highly recommend using LRT Sports as part of anyone's recruiting process.
The college process presents a myriad of challenges. Factor in athletics and it becomes even more daunting. Now, add the fact that you have zero experience with sports. What is a the mother of a college bound student-athlete to do? LRT Sports has truly lived up to its promise. It has kept "the college recruiting process honest and easy by providing first hand information about coaches, schools and the recruiting process." Their interviews with current students, coaches, and professional athletes have provided realistic guidance. I am much more informed because of LRT Sports! The coach ratings are the most helpful. LRT Sports interviews allow us to hear from students as to how the adults are impacting not only their athletic experience but also how they are helping to shape their adult self.
The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
Now that the recruiting process and the related stress is over, I wanted to thank you for your guidance. You did so much more than we had expected. Once you started the process by matching the best academic schools first, not the best sport programs, I knew you were the one. The way you laid out a timeline of contacting coaches, visits, and camps completely took any guesswork out of the plan for us. All of the student athletes that you put us in touch with gave us a look from the inside, and made us more comfortable knowing what was coming. Finally, using your website as a resource for knowing what to expect from different coaches based on former recruit reviews gave my son confidence before our meetings. There is no way we could have figured this out on our own, you really put us in a great position when decision time came.
I think hearing from other athletes is very beneficial. To be able to learn from people’s mistakes, and to be able to have access to those voices is really helpful; especially voices that have been there and done that. It’s very important for people to have access to information that could benefit them, and in this case there are many voices that can help the next wave of athletes.
If you have something that’s going to spell [the recruiting process] out for you… it’s so valuable. I think what everyone at LRT Sports is doing to spread the word and help advocate and educate athletes on the recruitment process is incredible.
Without question would have used LRT Sports. It would have probably been one of the most valuable tools that I could have had. If you want to know what these coaches are really like then I think this is the best tool out there. I’m really glad you are allowing recruits to have a resource like this moving forward.