Though the NCAA and its enforcement staff have guidelines and procedures in place to ensure continuity, confidentiality and the integrity of the investigative process, every case is unique. The length of time for the process differs depending on the scope of the allegations, as well as factors such as the number of witnesses; the cooperation of key witnesses; the cooperation from the institution; and the resources committed to the investigation by the NCAA.
The NCAA enforcement staff can initiate a review of any potential violation for an individual or institution before enacting a full major violations investigation. The NCAA may learn of potential violations from sources within the athletics world, from media reports or often, from institutions themselves who self-report potential violations. Once the enforcement staff determines that there is enough concern of potential violations, the institution is notified that an investigation has commenced.
The University of Miami was informed first orally--and then in writing--in August 2011 that the NCAA was, in fact, investigating allegations of potential rules violations at Miami. President Shalala immediately insisted on full cooperation from the staff and student-athletes at the University and offered to conduct a joint investigation with the NCAA. The enforcement staff agreed to proceed cooperatively. Commencing in 2011, the NCAA staff and the University of Miami have investigated any and all potential violations, no matter where that path has led. The process included multiple interviews with relevant witnesses, as well as the discovery and review of documents and associated materials.
During the course of any investigation, if a student-athlete is found to have accepted impermissible benefits or otherwise jeopardized his/her eligibility, the institution is expected to declare that student-athlete ineligible and it may seek reinstatement from the NCAA. The University of Miami did, in fact, declare student-athletes ineligible in August 2011 and immediately sought their reinstatement, with some incurring punitive measures as part of the reinstatement process.
Notice of Allegations
At the conclusion of the investigative process for any NCAA case, the enforcement staff makes a determination of what, if any, NCAA bylaws and rules it believes have been broken by the institution, its staff or student-athletes or associated parties. If, in their determination, violations did occur, the NCAA staff issues a Notice of Allegations to the institution, detailing the bylaws alleged to have been violated and providing supporting evidence. The issuance of the Notice of Allegations is not announced publicly by the NCAA nor is it released by the NCAA. Member institutions may, at their own choosing, release parts of or all of the Notice of Allegations to the public.
Any individual alleged to have committed an NCAA violation in the Notice of Allegations will also receive a copy of the allegation(s), whether still employed by the institution or not.
Response to the Notice of Allegations
Once an institution or individual receives a Notice of Allegations, there are two options. The first is for the institution and individual to agree to the allegations in the NOA and to proceed via summary disposition with the enforcement staff to the Committee on Infractions, which would ultimately decide on penalties. The second option is for the institution (and involved individuals) to file a response to the NOA, which leads to a hearing before the Committee on Infractions. The institution or individual has 90 days to file a response to the NCAA. Included in that response could be challenges to any of the alleged bylaws violations included in the Notice of Allegations, along with supporting evidence. Also, generally included in a response are any self-imposed punishments by the institution.
All parties who receive a Notice of Allegations are allowed to submit a response within 90 days or request an extension from the Chairman of the Committee on Infractions.
Hearing Before the Committee on Infractions
The Committee on Infractions meets approximately six times a year in various locations and is charged with reviewing, judging and ultimately determining any NCAA bylaws violations and issuing appropriate penalties. The COI consists of members from NCAA conferences and institutions as well as select unaffiliated parties.
After the NCAA staff issues the Notice of Allegations and the Committee on Infractions receives any and all responses to the Notice of Allegations, a hearing date and location is set at which the NCAA enforcement staff and representatives of the institution will be present. Those representatives typically include campus and athletic leadership, as well as select staff members.
At the COI hearing, the NCAA enforcement staff presents its case and responds to any Committee inquiries, while the institution outlines its own conclusions and case, including mitigating factors.
A typical COI hearing lasts from one to two days.
Issuance of Committee on Infractions Report
Approximately six to eight weeks following the hearing before the Committee on Infractions, the Committee will alert the institution that the release of the final report is imminent within 24 hours. The institution will receive a copy of the full report before the NCAA releases its findings publicly, regardless of whether or not the institution is public or private.
In the COI report, any bylaw violations as determined by the Committee will be detailed as will any punitive measures imposed on the institution or individuals. Staff and student-athlete names are redacted from the public report.
Appeal of Committee on Infractions Report
After the issuance of the COI report, an institution or individual has 15 days to file a Notice of Appeal to the conclusions in the report or to any punitive measures. The decision to appeal is solely at the discretion of the institution or individual. [There are additional time periods for submission of a brief by all parties.] That appeal will be heard by the Infractions Appeals Committee, a separate body from the Committee on Infractions.
The appeal process time varies but the ultimate decision is final.