Photo Courtesy: Missouri State University

NCAA: Missouri State Failed to Monitor Women’s Volleyball Program

The Missouri State women’s volleyball program has been hit with three years of probation by the NCAA, including a one year postseason ban, fines and scholarship reductions.

The infractions came during the tenure of former head coach Melissa Stokes.

Here’s the official release from the NCAA:

The Missouri State women’s volleyball program committed numerous violations involving recruiting, benefits, athletically related activities outside the playing season, and impermissible coaching activity, according to a decision released by a Division I Committee on Infractions hearing panel.

Additionally, the former women’s volleyball head coach was personally involved in many of these violations and permitted others, thereby violating head coach responsibility rules. As a result of these violations, Missouri State failed to monitor its women’s volleyball program.

Over the course of a three-year period, the former women’s volleyball head coach provided or permitted her staff to provide approximately $16,200 in impermissible recruiting inducements and benefits. Most of these benefits were for free or reduced-cost housing — including at rental properties owned by the head coach. The housing benefits enabled prospects and enrolled student-athletes to come to campus during multiple summers and participate in conditioning workouts and volleyball camps.

The head coach and her staff also arranged free tutoring and other academic assistance to help two prospects meet initial admission and eligibility requirements. Additionally, the head coach allowed a prospect who was not academically eligible to travel and receive expenses as part of the team’s foreign tour and provided a fundraising credit that permitted another student-athlete to participate in the tour, which was inconsistent with the school’s policy. As a result of the inducements and benefits outlined above, 13 student-athletes competed in a total of 150 contests while ineligible.

Additionally, within this same three-year period, the head coach violated countable athletically related activity rules by directing incoming and enrolled student-athletes to participate in activities during summer volleyball camps. The head coach also exceeded the permissible number of countable coaches when she provided monthly payments and free housing to volunteer coaches.

According to the panel, a failure-to-monitor violation occurred because the compliance office failed to engage in standard industry practices, such as spot-checking practices and camps and monitoring summer housing arrangements. Additionally, they did not fulfill their obligation to provide adequate rules education to coaching staff.

After the head coach’s separation from the school, she provided false or misleading information when interviewed by the NCAA enforcement staff. Specifically, she denied being involved in several of the violations, which was contrary to information obtained during the investigation. The head coach’s actions violated NCAA ethical conduct rules because she did not meet her obligation to cooperate with an investigation.

After considering aggravating and mitigating factors, the panel classified this case as Level I-Standard for the school and Level-I Aggravated for the former head coach. The panel used the Division I membership-approved penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Three years of probation.
  • A one-year postseason ban.
  • A fine of $5,000 plus 1% of the women’s volleyball program budget.
  • A 5% scholarship reduction.
  • A 12.5% reduction in official visits during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed).
  • A three-week ban on unofficial visits during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed). An additional four-week ban on unofficial visits for one year during the probation period.
  • A three-week ban on all recruiting communications during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed).  An additional four-week ban on all recruiting communications for one year during the probation period.
  • A five-day reduction in evaluation days during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed).  An additional five-day reduction in evaluation days for one year during the probation period.
  • A five-year show-cause order for the former head coach.
  • Should the former head coach become employed in an athletically related position within the membership, she will be suspended for 50% of regular-season contests in the first season after the show-cause order.
  • A vacation of team and individuals records of contests in which student-athletes participated while ineligible.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Stephen Madva, attorney in private practice; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Joe Novak, former football head coach at Northern Illinois; Jill Redmond, executive senior associate commissioner at the Atlantic 10 Conference; David M. Roberts, special assistant to the athletics director at Southern California; Tom Sullivan, president emeritus of Vermont; and Sankar Suryanarayan, chief hearing officer for the panel and university counsel at Princeton.


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