Oct. 27, 2005
In early 2004, the University of Illinois compliance staff found and investigated a possible infraction involving a then-member of the football squad and an acquaintance of the student-athlete who was a donor. Following a thorough investigation by our compliance staff, the University reported the violation to the NCAA and Big Ten Conference offices, and took corrective action with the student-athlete, who made repayment of the impermissible benefits, and disassociated the donor from the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. The NCAA Committee on Infractions decided to process the violation as a major infraction. The University chose to appeal the classification of the violation as "major," but was denied by the Committee on Infractions.
Ron Guenther, University of Illinois Director of Athletics, released the following statement in response to the NCAA's announcement of what the NCAA has now defined as a major violation.
"I disagree with the NCAA's decision to rule this violation as major. I respect the job they have to do as enforcers of the rules and policies and we have always been supportive of those efforts. Regardless of the classification of the violation, the University of Illinois will always have a compliance culture of the highest standard. We discovered; we investigated; and, we acted strongly and decisively with the parties involved. This is a perfect example of how a student-athlete in need can form a relationship with an individual outside our control and without our knowledge, and then accepts benefits he should not have accepted. The institution from start to finish did everything possible to prevent this type of situation. We have prided ourselves in the quality of our compliance culture and hoped this would remain a secondary violation. We hope the University and community can use this as an educational opportunity about the problems that can arise by not following the rules."
The following is a statement by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Richard Herman:
"This ruling is especially frustrating because Illinois has worked hard under Athletic Director Ron Guenther to build one of the best compliance cultures in the nation. It was our compliance department that discovered the violation and our athletic department self-reported the violation to the NCAA. We then cooperated fully with the NCAA in jointly investigating and taking corrective actions. We operate our athletic programs with honesty and integrity at all times. We fully understand that we must accept responsibility for any violation of NCAA rules, even one like this that occurs without our consent or knowledge. However, to have what we consider an isolated incident, that provided no competitive or recruiting advantage, be deemed a major violation by the NCAA is not very constructive in the context of our excellent record of compliance.
"In sum, we do not agree with the decision and are considering our right to appeal."