University of Missouri

Missouri goes before NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee over penalties

Missouri’s legal team and top administrators were in Indianapolis on Thursday, as the school went before the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee to make its case for the penalties handed down from the school’s academic tutor scandal, the school announced.

In a statement from an athletic department spokesperson, athletic director Jim Sterk said Missouri’s delegation was led by chancellor Alexander Cartwright, attorneys Mike Glazier and Chris Griffin, and Stephen Owens, from MU’s office of general council.

Sterk said MU’s team “did an outstanding job in putting forth our arguments to overturn the harsh penalties imposed on our football, baseball and softball programs.”

In January, the NCAA hit all three programs with a postseason ban, recruiting restrictions and vacated wins in light of former MU tutor Yolanda Kumar’s revelations that she committed academic fraud for numerous student athletes over a few years span. The penalties fit the NCAA’s punishment matrix for schools, but came as a surprise due to MU’s cooperation with the NCAA and self-imposed punishments the athletic department gave itself in light of the transgressions.

“As I have stated since January, the penalties handed down to the University were unprecedented based upon past decisions, and we have been respectful and aggressive in our response since then,” Sterk said in a statement. “We appreciated the opportunity and time the Appeals Committee has spent on our case and hope that they strongly take into account that the University was cited for exemplary cooperation from the NCAA Enforcement staff. I firmly believe that if these penalties are not overturned, it will have a chilling effect on future NCAA investigations by discouraging Universities to fully cooperate.”

Sterk offered no timeline as to when MU could learn of its fate, but has said in the past he expects an answer sometime in September. Mississippi went before the same committee on the same day in 2018 to appeal the sanctions handed down in light of former coach Hugh Freeze’s booster scandal, and didn’t get an answer until Nov. 1. The NCAA upheld the Rebels’ postseason ban despite Ole Miss already self-imposing a postseason ban the previous season.

Trainer takes on more general role

Longtime Missouri head football trainer Rex Sharp will be moved into an oversight role for this coming athletics season, an MU spokesperson confirmed. Sharp has been with MU since 1996 and will oversea teams, but will not be the main trainer for the football program. Sharp calls the decision a “refocusing” that allows him to work with more athletes at MU and to put more time into his responsibilities as associate athletic director of sports medicine.

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Alex Schiffer has been covering the Missouri Tigers for The Star since October 2017. He came in second place for magazine-length feature writing by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association in 2018 and graduated from Mizzou in 2017.