University officials took different approach in 2006, asked for help

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

While Southeast Missouri State didn't act on the July 2004 memo from assistant athletic director Alicia Scott, the document was part of the series that led to the university asking the Ohio Valley Conference commissioner's office to look into the program in January 2006.

The final straw came from a series of e-mail exchanges between university president Dr. Kenneth Dobbins and former women's basketball assistant coach Kevin Emerick. Those e-mails were among the documents obtained last week by the Southeast Missourian in its open-records request Unlike 2004, university officials had a different impression about the turmoil surrounding the women's basketball program.

"When the issues surrounding women's basketball just eventually rose to a level where, as an institution, we felt it's continual, it's not going away -- we had documented a number of issues -- but there was no end to it," Kaverman said. "It kept going on, and I said to the president, we need some help on this. We don't have the resources to spend a large part of our day on this. It was time to call the calvary, and that's when we did."

In the exchange, Emerick stated he had been providing the university with multiple accounts of violations since January of 2005. He also wrote that he had been contacted by the NCAA but had not initiated contact and that he believed the university "may have sat on the 'violations' for political reasons."

After Dobbins had asked OVC commissioner Dr. John Steinbrecher to get involved, the documents show an e-mail exchange between Emerick and Steinbrecher in which they were unable to find agreement on conditions for a meeting. Ultimately, on Feb. 8, 2006, Dobbins asked the OVC to conduct the investigation into alleged NCAA violations.

Emerick's e-mails mentioned alleged recruiting violations that could be proven by phone records of the basketball coaching staff in the 2004-05 school year.

Those allegations were not part of the report released by the university on June 30, 2006.

That report, based on information put together by The Compliance Group for the OVC, listed violations in several areas, including: inappropriate transportation for prospective and enrolled student-athletes, providing a per-diem for student-athletes during a time when it was not permitted, inappropriate summer housing arrangements for prospective student-athletes and other summer contact issues.

The NCAA, which joined the investigation in February of last year based on information it received from outside sources in addition to the OVC commissioner's correspondence, is not done with its work.

"I think it's important the institution was out in front and able to appropriately document and self-impose penalties with the program," Kaverman said.

The penalties, imposed this year, included a reduction of scholarships from 15 to 12 and a reduction in days for recruiting from 85 to 80.

The university also restructured the compliance office. Scott had resigned her post in May of 2006, citing the desire to spend more time with her family and also changes in the office that involved more work on compliance and less on student services. The restructuring made the position full-time compliance but added a part-time position as well.

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