Amir Hinton Shaw HBCU basketball

Did the NCAA go too far with punishment for HBCU hoops program?

Shaw University, one of the oldest HBCUs in the country, said its basketball program was hit with excessive penalties by the NCAA.

Shaw University, one of HBCU basketball’s oldest programs, has been hit big-time by the NCAA.

The men’s basketball program has been hit with sanctions stemming from multiple major violations that occurred under former head coach Joel Hopkins. Shaw said it believes the penalties leveled against it were excessive.

The NCAA says that during the 2018-2019 season the university’s failure to monitor the men’s basketball program led to major violations, including arranging completion of coursework for a half-dozen student-athletes, resulting in those student-athletes competing while ineligible, according to an agreement released by the Division II Committee on Infractions. 

Shaw, in a statement, released following the decision last month, stated it felt the penalties leveled against it were excessive.

“We are disappointed with the additional penalties imposed by the NCAA,” read the statement. “Those penalties appear to be excessive based on precedent and in comparison, to similar cases and previous violations at other institutions. Since the date the issue was initially self-reported by the university, all involved parties are no longer affiliated with the university; the university has instituted updated compliance policies; and the athletic department will undergo regular internal and external reviews to maintain the integrity of our athletics program. Though we disagree with the outcome, the university will continue its full cooperation with the process and work hard to close this chapter and focus on the future success of the program for our administrators, coaches, and student-athletes.

According to the NCAA’s report, a Shaw University basketball manager arranged for a women’s basketball player to complete the coursework as the six student-athletes competed in 31 games and received actual and necessary expenses while ineligible. Hopkins, according to the report, was given permission to be away from the team due to personal circumstances, leaving his assistants to run the program.

Shaw Joel Hopkins HBCU
Joel Hopkins Sr. was the head coach of Shaw University men’s basketball during multiple NCAA violations.

HBCU hit with multiple years of probation

The violations were reported during the spring of 2019, but the Raleigh, NC-based HBCU attempted to arrange interviews with the involved student-athletes without success and failed to adequately collect sufficient information about the possible violations because of the lack of coordination in the investigations it conducted.

“With a campus where approximately one-quarter of the student body is student-athletes, the (Committee on Infractions) is particularly troubled by the disconnect between the institution and some fundamental NCAA compliance-related principles,” the committee said in its decision.

Not only that, Joel Hopkins, his associate head coach and his assistant coach are stated to have hesitated to cooperate and only agreed to participate in the interviews after being informed the investigation had substantiated their involvement in academic misconduct issues. Hopkins stepped down the following fall, ending his second stint at the HBCU just before basketball season began.

Shaw will be stripped of its 2018-2019 CIAA Southern division title due to the NCAA violation.

Shaw’s penalties are aplenty

The NCAA hit Shaw with the following penalties:

  • Four years of probation.
  • A $3,500 fine.
  • A vacation of records of contests in which the student-athletes participated while ineligible.
  • An audit of the university’s athletics compliance program during the first and third years of the probationary period. The university shall have an independent, external agency or consultant experienced in NCAA compliance matters and investigations conduct the audits. The first audit should set forth a list of recommendations and establish a timeline for those recommendations to be implemented. The second audit will measure the university’s progress toward meeting those recommendations.
  • A requirement that the university provide a copy of the infractions decision to its regional accrediting agency.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the head coach.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the associate head coach.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the assistant coach.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the volunteer coach.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the manager.
  • A disassociation of the university from the head coach, associate head coach, assistant coach, volunteer coach and manager for five years, beginning July 13, 2022, and ending July 12, 2027. The university shall not accept any assistance from the individuals that would aid in the recruitment of prospective or enrolled student-athletes. The university also shall not provide any athletics benefit or privilege to these individuals that is not generally available to the public at large.

Shaw claimed its third-consecutive Southern Division title in men’s basketball that season, led by Division II basketball’s leading scorer Amir Hinton. The names of the student-athletes who benefitted from the alleged misconduct were not named. 

Did the NCAA go too far with punishment for HBCU hoops program?
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