The NCAA released findings Tuesday from a 29-month investigation into the Howard University athletics department, accepting a slew of penalties self-imposed by the school and handing down a three-year show-cause penalty for a track and field coach who resigned amid a scandal involving the misuse of scholarship money and recruiting and eligibility violations.
Howard’s self-imposed penalties include scholarship reductions for football, men’s basketball, women’s swimming and men’s cross country/track and field teams; reduced recruiting opportunities for men’s and women’s cross country/track and field; vacated wins for men’s cross country/track and field during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons; probation until May 2018; and a $140,000 fine.
“The process has resulted in a meticulous review of our entire operations — in athletics and across the University landscape — to ensure that all touch points are adhering to NCAA compliance guidelines,” Howard Athletic Director Skip Perkins Jr. said in a statement. “This has made us a stronger institution. We have learned from all of this and are committed to having an NCAA-compliant athletics program that continues to foster an environment of integrity and sportsmanship on and off the field of play.”
The NCAA issued an accompanying statement, in which it approved the sanctions and cited the school’s lack of “institutional control over certain aspects of its athletics department,” according to a panel of the Division I Committee on Infractions.
The initial investigation began internally in March 2012, when Howard temporarily ruled some athletes ineligible and suspended spring sports activity. According to the NCAA, Howard allowed its athletes to pocket excess scholarship money meant for purchasing textbooks from 2010-11 through the 2013 summer term.
According to the NCAA report, the track and field coach “violated the NCAA ethical conduct rules and did not promote an atmosphere for compliance” by recruiting prospects from Kenya with the aid of a charity founder, who in turn helped sell the Bison program to those recruits. The coach also awarded a scholarship to a non-qualifying athlete and paid $11,500 to five future Howard athletes “in the form of fees for a visa, apparel, university fees, transportation and living expenses.”
“We are thankful to the NCAA Committee for its fair and thorough review of the facts,” Wayne Frederick, Howard’s interim president, said in a statement. “We have begun a new chapter at Howard University with bolstered campus-wide compliance initiatives, experienced athletics and compliance personnel and an unwavering commitment to pursue excellence in all aspects of athletics and university operations.”
In the investigation’s aftermath, Howard created a Compliance Officers Group, restructured its textbook distribution process and hired a new track and field coach, Marc Harrison, who replaced Curtis Pittman in February 2013.
Reached by telephone, a university spokesperson refused to confirm the name of the former track and field coach, who under terms of the show-cause order must appear before the NCAA infractions panel if he seeks employment at another NCAA school in the next three years. An NCAA representative could not be reached for comment.
A Facebook profile under Pittman’s name lists his employment status as “resigned as howard university’s head track and field and cross country coach” and states his current location as Nakuru, a city in Kenya.