FAYETTEVILLE — From the start of 2021 through the end of August 2022, the Arkansas Athletics self-reported eight violations of NCAA rules, according to documents obtained by the Southwest Times Record via an open records request.
All were categorized as Level III violations, which the NCAA defines as those that “are isolated or limited in nature; provide no more than minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage; and include no more than a minimum impermissible advantage”.
In short, it’s not very serious.
This is the case with the violations reported by Arkansas, four of which came from football. Men’s and women’s basketball each reported one infraction, and women’s swimming and diving reported two. Most of the violations related to recruitment.
Recruitment rules exist for good reasons and prevent any program from gaining an unfair advantage. But the day-to-day applications of these rules reveal the details of the bureaucratic processes and resources devoted to the most minor and incidental infractions.
The descriptions of each case Arkansas reports and the disciplinary actions taken underscore just how downright stupid some of these violations can be. They also show how clean Arkansas’ programs have been over the past year and a half, given that all of its self-reported offenses have been relatively mild.
Here are some of the weirdest cases Arkansas has had to report.
An accidental text
One of the more comedic violations reported by Arkansas came from women’s basketball. In 2021, an anonymous assistant coach accidentally sent a text aimed at potential athletes in the Class of 2023 to an athlete in the Class of 2024. Programs can send recruitment materials to athletes on September 1 of their junior year. While reaching out to juniors on that date, the assistant mistakenly texted an athlete who was entering her second year.
The staff member then had to report the accidental text, which she did the same day it happened, and the sports department had to take some sort of corrective action. The NCAA then had to review the case and issue a penalty, which it did more than six weeks after the incident.
MEN’S BASKETBALL:Where Arkansas Basketball Ranks in the Preseason AP Top 25
ROCKET:How does Rocket Sanders compare to recent Arkansas football running backs?
TO LOOK CLOSER:Arkansas football attack was covered by lack of defense against BYU. Is it sustainable?
The punishment? Arkansas would not be allowed to send recruiting materials to the affected prospect for 16 days after the earliest permitted date for their class.
All for a wrong message.
Arkansas Football reported a similar instance of the misdirection, but this time it was in the form of handwritten correspondence.
In April 2022, members of the football staff sent out handwritten camp invitations to athletes in the 2024 and 2025 classes. anyone in their group position” to publicize the camp, according to the report.
The problem, however, arose when an analyst and a graduate assistant joined in to help draft some of the invitations. The report says they unknowingly used “recruiting language” in their messages. The invitations were sent before September 1 of the athletes’ junior years, which is not a violation in itself. But the inclusion of recruiting language meant, as in the case of women’s basketball, that the messages were considered recruiting material and were sent before they were cleared.
“The graduate assistant and analyst were eager to help and did not understand the nuance between a generic invitation and an invitation that included recruiting language,” the report said.
Given the vagueness of the term “recruitment language”, it is difficult to blame them.
Corrective actions taken? Arkansas “has provided training” to its staff and will not be allowed to send recruiting materials to affected prospects until 60 days after Sept. 1 of their junior year. Lesson learned.