TAHLEQUAH — The NCAA imposed sanctions on Oklahoma's Northeastern State University on Wednesday after finding that a former women's tennis coach spread $1,300 cash among several of players and paid for some of their academic fees and meals.
The women's tennis program was placed on one year of probation, the school was fined $5,000 and former coach Ron Cox must attend ethics training if he coaches at another NCAA school before July 2, 2015, under terms of a settlement the NCAA reached with the coach and Northeastern State.
“All parties, including the NCAA, had to agree with the findings in the case,” Northeastern State Athletic Director Tony Duckworth said. Under terms of the agreement, no party can appeal, he said.
A panel from college sports' governing board also voided records from some matches and accepted the Division II school's self-imposed punishment of cancelling its fall 2012 women's tennis season.
According to the NCAA, Cox gave $1,300 cash to six athletes, paid some of their academic fees, provided meals and gifts and used players to help with telephone calls as he recruited prospects who spoke other languages. Five of the seven international athletes contacted by the players eventually enrolled at Northeastern. The NCAA said Cox should have sought guidance from administrators before using students in recruiting.
Cox was cited for a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance with NCAA rules and for unethical conduct. He did not respond to a request for comment.
The NCAA said the trouble in the women's tennis program was the school's first major infractions case.
Cox retired Nov. 1, 2012. The school resumed its tennis program last spring and advanced to the Division II playoffs after having its players' eligibility restored, Duckworth said.
The NCAA did not order the athletes to repay the coach for the improper benefits but as part of their reinstatement process they were directed to make an equivalent donation to charity.