NCAA Puts UTEP Football and Softball on Probation

The UTEP Athletic Department as been placed on a one year probation by the NCAA.

EL PASO, Texas – The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed the UTEP Athletic Department on one-year probation for Level II violations in the football and softball programs.

As detailed in the approved agreement, the Committee on Infractions, NCAA enforcement staff, and UTEP administration agreed that the football program exceeded the maximum number of allowable countable coaches when noncoaching staff members provided skill instruction to the team.  They also determined that the softball program exceeded daily and weekly limits for countable athletically related activities (CARA), and exceeded the maximum number of allowable countable coaches when noncoaching staff members provided skill instruction to the team.

Football head coach Dana Dimel and former softball head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk received a one-year show-cause for Level II violations.  In addition, the number of permissible countable athletically related activities hours in softball has been reduced for the 2021-22 academic year.  The number of countable coaches for football and softball has also been reduced by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.

STATEMENT FROM DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS JIM SENTER

“We alerted our compliance staff as soon as we became aware of the potential infractions.  I would like to thank them for their diligence in conducting interviews, compiling information and submitting a thorough report to the NCAA.  We are committed to running our department with integrity.  We will continue to monitor all of our sports programs to ensure that they are operating in compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.  We will also continue to provide comprehensive rules education to all of our coaches and staff.”

STATEMENT FROM FOOTBALL HEAD COACH DANA DIMEL

“I am committed and will ensure that we do a better job of following all NCAA rules.  It is my responsibility to create an atmosphere of compliance on my staff and within our football program.  I acknowledge that I need to do a better job moving forward, and accept the NCAA’s penalties for this violation.”  

Here is the press release from the NCAA:

The UTEP softball and football programs committed violations, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

The university, former softball head coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed the former softball head coach provided additional practice time or individual workouts to student-athletes, exceeding daily and weekly hour limitations for such activities. The former softball head coach also failed to provide a mandatory weekly day off for student-athletes.

Additionally, the parties agreed that the former softball coach allowed graduate assistants to provide skills instruction to student-athletes during extra workout sessions, regular practices and occasional competitions. This resulted in the program exceeding the maximum allowable countable coaches in at least four separate academic years, from the 2016-17 academic year through November 2019.

According to the agreement, the former softball head coach violated head coach responsibility legislation when she did not promote an atmosphere of compliance because of her personal involvement in the violations and because she did not monitor her staff’s involvement.

The university, football head coach and NCAA enforcement staff also agreed that noncoaching football staff members engaged in coaching activities. Specifically, defensive and offensive quality control specialists provided skills instruction during practices. As a result, the program exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches in two academic years, from the 2018-19 academic year through spring 2020.

The parties also agreed that the football head coach is responsible for the violations in his program because he did not monitor his staff and detect the impermissible skills instruction. The football head coach acknowledged he was ultimately responsible.

This case was processed through the negotiated resolution process. The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary disposition because the university, the former softball head coach, the football head coach and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the Association and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases.

The university and the enforcement staff used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree upon Level II-mitigated penalties for the university and Level II-standard penalties for the former softball head coach and the football head coach. Those penalties, approved by the Committee on Infractions, are detailed below:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former softball head coach, including a four-week suspension from all coaching activities and a suspension from 15% of regular- season contests at any school that employs her.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the football head coach, including a four-day suspension from all coaching activities and a 10-day suspension from off-campus recruiting during the 2020-21 football contact period.
  • A reduction in permissible countable athletically related activities hours in softball from 20 to 18 during the regular season and from eight to seven during the off-season during the 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of softball countable coaches by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of football countable coaches by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.

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 Thomas Hill, senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; Joel Maturi, chief hearing officer for the panel and former director of athletics at Minnesota; and Mary Schutten, executive vice president and provost at Central Michigan.

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