Saturday, February 6, 2016

A little more on Harvard's NCAA violation

The statement that the Ivy League put out about Harvard basketball's NCAA rules violation prompted a few emails from readers asking for more details and clarification

A little more on Harvard's NCAA violation


The statement that the Ivy League put out about Harvard basketball's NCAA rules violation prompted a few emails from readers asking for more details and clarification. So I called the Ivy League office and talked to Carolyn Campbell-McGovern, one of their spokespersons who deals with compliance issues.

I first asked how long the process took of coming to the conclusion that a violation had in fact occurred.

I was not given many specificic details, other than that there were "a series of discussions over a long period of time." Harvard and the NCAA came to the agreement, and Harvard sent in the paperwork last week.

Next, I asked for some details on the statement in the league's release that secondary violations "are also routine for all Division I members, including Ivy League institutions."

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That second clause was news to some people. So I asked how recently there had been other secondary violations. I wasn't given any specific details, but Campbell-McGovern said that "it's common for us to get a call that says, 'Oh, this happened, we made a mistake." Not once a week, but like that."

I'm not as well-versed in the NCAA rulebook as your average Ivy League basketball coach or league office PR person. So I asked for a definition of what constitutes a secondary violation.

They are, I was told, "inadvertent and or isolated - those are the main characteristics, and [they] don't result in any significant recruiting advantage or extra benefit."

For example?

"A common one is, a coach calls a prospective student-athlete who he or she thinks is a senior, but the student is really a junior," Campbell-McGovern said. "The mistakes that people don't understand are against the rules, and after they happen, they realize they shouldn't have done that. So doing something during a period of time when it's prohibited."

I then asked whethere there's always a punishment, or whether if it's something truly inadvertent the NCAA offers a warning and advises that it not happen again. Campbell-McGovern replied that "there's almost always some consequence" to the violations.

Finally, I asked if Campbell-McGovern thought that Harvard is held to a higher level of scrutiny by the public and media. It is Harvard after all, or Hahvaaahd, depending on your preferred brogue.

"I can't say that I've really tracked on that," Campbell-McGovern said. "My sense is that Harvard does draw more media attention for whatever it does generally - not just in athletics, but the university."

At that point, I figured I had about as much as I was going to get. Hopefully we know somethng now that we didn't yesterday.

Staff Writer
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Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Staff Writer
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