Arkansas loses two track and field titles; sprinter Gay linked to probe

Updated: October 25, 2007, 7:30 PM ET
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas' renowned track and field program lost two national championships Thursday when the NCAA imposed stiff sanctions for violations involving sprint star Tyson Gay and a former assistant coach.

The Razorbacks also received three years' probation. University Chancellor John White said the school plans to appeal.

"As we previously acknowledged, the violations in this case primarily involved a rogue former assistant coach and one student-athlete over a short period of time," White said. "We are disappointed with the penalties imposed by the infractions committee and believe they are disproportionate to the violations."

The underlying violations were not egregious in and of themselves, but in combination they formed a major case.

--Josephine R. Potuto, chair of the Division I committee on infractions

Razorbacks coach John McDonnell has built one of the top college programs in any sport over more than three decades with the school. Arkansas has won 40 national titles in track and field and cross country, not counting the two that were taken away from the 2004 and 2005 men's outdoor track and field championships.

Arkansas had self-reported violations committed by former assistant Lance Brauman, who was convicted last year of embezzlement, theft and mail fraud. The convictions stemmed from his time at Barton County Community College in Kansas, part of a scandal that spawned charges against seven Barton County coaches and the athletic director and led to the firing of the school's president. Brauman was coaching Arkansas when he was convicted.

Neither the university's self-report nor the NCAA named Gay, who won the world championship this year at 100 and 200 meters. But Brauman's mail-fraud indictment identified the athlete, who transferred from Barton County to Arkansas.

"The violations involved unethical conduct by the former assistant coach, as well as an admitted failure to monitor by the university," said Josephine R. Potuto, chair of the Division I committee on infractions. "The underlying violations were not egregious in and of themselves, but in combination they formed a major case."

The school released a statement with White's response and said it would have no further comment pending its appeal.

The university had acknowledged that Brauman and his wife provided impermissible transportation for the athlete and helped arrange lodging for him during the summer of 2003, prior to his enrollment at Arkansas. The school also reported that Brauman or his wife helped the student enroll in a correspondence course in a way that constituted improper assistance, and that Brauman asked his sister-in-law to tutor the student and helped arrange for two people to serve as proctors for tests in the correspondence course.

"The university did a first-rate job in its investigation and cooperation with NCAA staff once there was information about the violation, and it appeared to the committee that the university has a genuine commitment to rules compliance," Potuto said. "On the other hand, the university is back before the committee for the third time in 10 years. It's a repeat violator for the second time."

The NCAA imposed sanctions against Arkansas in 2003. The school and NCAA found that from 1994-99 at least 20 football and basketball players were overpaid for part-time jobs at a truck service owned by a university booster.

In 1997, Arkansas was penalized for violations involving the men's basketball program, including improper assistance with correspondence course enrollment and improper tutoring for prospective student-athletes -- a scenario Potuto said was similar to the track and field violations.

"The committee has been saying over and over again that universities need to give attention to this issue," she said. "The university's own 1997 case involved prospects on campus prior to enrollment and a failure to pay attention to what they were doing."

Arkansas had said it would take its own punitive actions, including reducing equivalency scholarships in men's track and field. The NCAA said the school need not continue doing that.

"The committee felt that the penalty that was appropriate in this case was vacation of records -- because the student-athlete was a major contributor in the two national championships that the university won," Potuto said.

Arkansas must vacate all of Gay's individual meet results from when he competed for the track team.

Brauman resigned from his coaching position at Arkansas when he was convicted in July 2006. He served time in federal prison while keeping in touch with Gay and Veronica Campbell, another of his star pupils. He left them with enough workout instructions to last the entire time he was gone, and both were stars at the world championships.

Arkansas' athletic department must stay disassociated from Brauman, and if he seeks athletic employment with another NCAA school over the next two years, he and that institution will have to appear before the infractions committee to figure out if his duties should be limited.

Potuto said Arkansas' probation won't prevent the current track and field team from competing for NCAA championships.

"The team is fully able to do whatever it is that a team would do that's not on probation," she said. "It's a period in which the committee hopes and expects that there will be enhanced attention paid to compliance and other issues on campus."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press