Friday, December 09, 2022

Former coach's rogue program places MSSU football on NCAA probation for three years

Missouri Southern State University's decision to hire troubled Garden City Community College Coach Jeff Sims to run the football program in 2018 has come back to bite the college in a big way.

Actions taken by Sims before he was fired in 2020 have resulted in the football program being placed on probation for three years, according to a settlement reached between university officials and the NCAA.

The NCAA's decision, which was released this morning, details Sims' operation of a rogue program, in which he answered to no one and did not bother to speak to Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman for months.

As a result of a settlement between the university and the NCAA, Southern will be on probation for the next three years and will have to vacate its wins during Sims' two seasons at the helm, will have to pay a $5,000 fine and will have to tell all recruits about the penalties.

The report also said Sims encouraged "academic misconduct" in order to keep athletes eligible.

During his short tenure at MSSU, the head coach ran a program where compliance was an afterthought, if not entirely dismissed and disregarded. The head coach was directly involved in some violations and indifferent to others. He set a tone in his program whereby his own actions and words demonstrated that NCAA rules did not matter. Apart from directly committing and not addressing known violations, the head coach created and maintained an adversarial environment between his program, athletics leadership and compliance professionals.

With respect to his personal involvement in violations, the head coach arranged for a booster to pay a prospect’s outstanding community college tuition bill of approximately $8,080. 

The prospect previously played for the head coach when he coached at the community college prior to coming to MSSU. Because the community college would not release the prospect’s transcripts until the bill was satisfied, the outstanding tuition bill impeded the prospect’s ability to enroll and compete at an NCAA institution. 

The head coach’s involvement violated both unethical conduct and inducement legislation and resulted in major violations. 

Furthermore, the head coach failed to meet his legislated responsibilities as a head coach because he neither promoted an atmosphere for compliance nor monitored his staff. Rather than set a proper tone of compliance in his program, the head coach actively promoted an atmosphere of noncompliance. 

In addition to his involvement in arranging for a booster to impermissibly pay for a prospect’s outstanding tuition bill, the head coach was aware of and supported “captain’s practices” in which the football staff impermissibly directed and observed student-athletes outside of designated playing and practice times. 

Additionally, the head coach isolated his program from athletics administration and compliance. He made disparaging comments and created a culture where he discouraged his staff members from reporting information to compliance and instilled fear of retaliation if they did. 

Finally, the head coach failed to monitor his staff’s involvement in student-athletes’ academics after he threatened their jobs if the student-athletes failed to perform well academically. As a result of these threats, an assistant coach engaged in academic misconduct. The head coach responsibility violation is major.

Finally, the head coach failed to meet fundamental standards of conduct outlined in unethical conduct legislation and his legislated responsibility to cooperate. 

When interviewed by the enforcement staff, the head coach denied any knowledge of or involvement in arranging for the booster to pay the prospect’s outstanding bill. The head coach’s denials are contradicted by credible information, including interview statements by the booster and the prospect. His conduct fell well short of the expectations and obligations of NCAA coaches. These violations are also major.

The university became aware of the potential NCAA violations during an exit interview with an assistant coach, according to the report. An investigation, including interviews with former staff members and athletes confirmed what the assistant coach said and uncovered further violations.

The university self-reported the violations to the NCAA in October 2020, according to the report. Bruggeman announced in January 2021 he was stepping down as athletic director on March 16.

The report included the following Findings of Fact:

MSSU hired the head coach as its head football coach in December 2018. Prior to arriving at MSSU, the head coach had an extensive, nearly 30-year, coaching career with experience in high school, junior college and NCAA institutions. 

Immediately prior to arriving at MSSU, he was the head coach at a community college where he had on-field success, leading multiple teams to appearances in the Junior College National Championship.

The head coach and his staff recruited some of his former student-athletes from the community college to attend MSSU. One of those individuals was a prospective student-athlete (the prospect), who previously played for the head coach during the 2016-17 academic year.

The prospect left the community college after one season with an outstanding tuition bill of approximately $8,080. The community college would not release his transcripts until the bill was satisfied. 

In his interview with the enforcement staff, the prospect reported that when the head coach recruited him to MSSU, he told him, “You’re not going to be able to play for another team unless you play for me” and that his outstanding bill would be “taken care of.” 

Shortly thereafter, the head coach connected the prospect with a booster. That booster admitted that he paid the outstanding bill in January 2019. Thereafter, the prospect enrolled at MSSU and competed in eight contests. He also received actual and necessary expenses associated with those competitions. 

 Both the prospect and the booster stated that they reached an agreement whereby the prospect would cash his scholarship checks and repay the booster. 

In his interview, the prospect reported that the head coach told him to go to the bank, cash his scholarship checks and then return the money to the head coach to repay the booster. When interviewed by the enforcement staff, an assistant coach reported that the head coach directed him to pick up the prospect, take him to the bank to cash his check, and then to bring the money back to the head coach so that the head coach could repay the person who paid the prospect’s debt. The assistant coach did as directed. 

The booster reported that he did receive some, but not all, of the money back. In his interview with the enforcement staff, the head coach denied any knowledge of or involvement in the arrangement for the booster to pay the prospect’s bill or the repayment plan.

During the head coach’s tenure, his program regularly engaged in “captain’s practices” in the summers of 2019 and 2020. 

In his interview, the head coach admitted that his staff encouraged student-athletes’ participation in these summer practices by aligning the practices with student-athletes’ summer class and job schedules. 

The head coach reported that his staff would work with the strength and conditioning staff to ensure that there was time set aside for the student-athletes to use the field following workouts. 

The head coach acknowledged that he set an expectation in his program to win games and championships and opined, generally, that to win requires extra work. To assist the student-athletes, the football staff provided the student-athletes with workout programs, drills and playbooks, and taught them how to run practice “on their own.” 

Multiple individuals—coaches and student-athletes—confirmed that the coaches would stand in the north endzone or at a window and balcony that overlooked the field to observe the activities. The football program did not log these activities as countable athletically related activity (CARA). 

In his interview with the enforcement staff, the head coach asserted that the “captain’s practices” were not mandatory. He further claimed that his staff did not have a structured schedule to watch them. 

As agreed upon by MSSU through the negotiated resolution process, other major violations occurred in the football program during the head coach’s tenure—including other benefits and inducements and academic misconduct. MSSU also agreed that it failed to monitor the football program. 

Although the institution acknowledged its own compliance shortcomings, the failure to monitor occurred, in part, due to the isolated and contentious culture established by the head coach. 

In his interview with the enforcement staff, one assistant coach described the head coach’s relationship with the director of athletics as “contentious at best.” He further stated that the head coach characterized everyone outside the program as “the enemy.” 

When asked about the head coach’s approach to compliance, another assistant coach stated, “rules are for other people.” 

Later, he also stated that the head coach threatened to fire staff members if student-athletes did not perform well academically and stated that staff members would be fired if they talked about the football program with anybody else or reported a violation. 

Finally, in a written statement, an athletic academic support specialist reported that the head coach “create[d] an atmosphere of non-compliance with his mantra of ‘do anything it takes to win.’” The athletic academic support specialist reiterated those sentiments with specific examples during her interview with the enforcement staff. 

In his interview with the enforcement staff, the head coach acknowledged a tense relationship with the athletics administration, admitting that he went nearly six months without speaking to the director of athletics. 

However, he painted an entirely different picture with respect to his and his programs compliance with NCAA rules. As an overarching matter, he stated that he expected his program to follow the rules. The head coach also claimed that he knew the rules based on years of coaching at the collegiate level. 

The head coach questioned the competence of MSSU’s compliance personnel and stated that he provided his staff with education and a program manual. The head coach did not deny that he emphasized the importance of student-athletes’ academic success, telling his staff “their grades are your grades.” 

The head coach clarified, however, that he expected student-athletes to do their own work. Further, the head coach did not deny that he expected his staff members to come to him first with compliance concerns rather than go directly to compliance. He acknowledged that he repeatedly asked compliance whether there were any concerns in his program after he heard rumors of potential issues. 

Finally, the head coach admitted that he never reported any violations to compliance during his time at MSSU.

The following penalties for the university were agreed to as part of the settlement:

1. Public reprimand and censure through the public release of the negotiated resolution agreement. 

2. Three years of probation from November 3, 2022, through November 2, 2025. 

3. During this period of probation, the institution shall: 

a. Continue to develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation to instruct coaches, the faculty athletics representative, all athletics department personnel and all institutional staff members with responsibility for recruiting and certification legislation. 

b. Submit a preliminary report to the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) by December 15, 2022, setting forth a schedule for establishing this compliance and educational program. 

c. File with the OCOI annual compliance reports indicating the progress made with this program by September 15th, during each year of probation. Particular emphasis shall be placed on rules education and monitoring related to recruiting, extra benefit and academic misconduct legislation. 

d. Inform prospects in the football program in writing that the institution is on probation for three years and detail the violations committed. If a prospect takes an official paid visit, the information regarding violations, penalties and terms of probation must be provided in advance of the visit. Otherwise, the information must be provided before a prospect signs a National Letter of Intent. 

e. Publicize specific and understandable information concerning the nature of the infractions by providing, at a minimum, a statement to include the types of violations and the affected sport programs and a direct, conspicuous link to the public infractions decision located on the athletics department's main webpage "landing page" and in the media guides for the football program. The institution's statement must: 

(i) clearly describe the infractions; 

(ii) include the length of the probationary period associated with the case; and 

(iii) give members of the general public a clear indication of what happened in the case to allow the public (particularly prospects and their families) to make informed, knowledgeable decisions. A statement that refers only to the probationary period with nothing more is not sufficient. 

4. Scholarship reduction: During the 2022-23 academic year, the institution shall limit the number of grants-in-aid awarded in the football program to 34.2 during that year. 

5. Vacation of team and individual records: Ineligible participation in the football program occurred over the fall of 2019 as a result of violations in this case. Therefore, pursuant to Bylaw 19.5.2-(g) and Executive Regulations and, Missouri Southern State shall vacate all regular season and conference tournament wins, records and participation in which the ineligible student-athletes competed from the time they became ineligible through the time they were reinstated as eligible for competition. 

Further, if the ineligible student-athletes participated in NCAA postseason competition at any time they were ineligible, Missouri Southern State's participation in the postseason contests in which the ineligible competition occurred shall be vacated. The individual records of the ineligible student-athletes shall also be vacated. However, the individual finishes and any awards for all eligible student-athletes shall be retained. 

Further, Missouri Southern State's records regarding its football program, as well as the records of the head coach, shall reflect the vacated records and be recorded in all publications in which such records are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material, electronic and digital media plus institutional, conference and NCAA archives. 

Any institution that may subsequently hire the affected head coach shall similarly reflect the vacated wins in his career records documented in media guides and other publications cited above. Head coaches with vacated wins on their records may not count the vacated wins toward specific honors or victory "milestones" such as 100th, 200th or 500th career victories. 

Any public reference to the vacated records shall be removed from the athletics department stationery, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear. Any trophies awarded by the NCAA in the football program shall be returned to the Association. 

Finally, to aid in accurately reflecting all institutional and student-athlete vacations, statistics and records in official NCAA publications and archives, the sports information director (or other designee as assigned by the director of athletics) must contact the NCAA media coordination and statistics office and appropriate conference officials to identify the specific student-athletes and contests impacted by the penalties. In addition, the institution must provide the media coordination and statistics office with a written report detailing those discussions. This written report will be maintained in the permanent files of the media coordination and statistics office. The written report must be delivered to the office no later than 14 days following the release of this decision or, if the institution appeals the vacation penalty, at the conclusion of the appeals process. A copy of the written report shall also be delivered to the OCOI at the same time. 

The institution shall pay a fine of $5,000 to the NCAA. 

 7. Recruiting restrictions: The institution shall prohibit off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations in the football program for a one-week period during the 2022-23 academic year. 

8. Outside audit or review: Missouri Southern State shall undergo an audit of its athletics policies and procedures during the term of probation. Missouri Southern State shall implement all recommendations made by the reviewers and shall provide a copy of the reviewer's report in its annual report. 

9. Following the receipt of the final compliance report and prior to the conclusion of probation, the institution's president shall provide a letter to the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions affirming that the institution's current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations. 

10. Show-cause order: The former academic advisor violated recruiting inducement and extra benefits legislation. Therefore, the former academic advisor shall be subject to a one-year show-cause order pursuant to Bylaw The show-cause order shall be in effect from November 3, 2022, through November 2, 2023. During the term of the show-cause, the former academic advisor shall attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar one time at her own expense, attend monthly NCAA rules education sessions at her current institution and present a rules education session concerning impermissible inducements/benefits and her role in this infractions case to the athletics staff at her current institution. Any member institution that employs the former academic advisor in an athletically related position during the one-year show-cause period shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the OCOI to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply.

11. Show-cause order: Former assistant football coach 1 violated academic misconduct and ethical conduct legislation. Therefore, former assistant football coach 1 shall be subject to a four-year show-cause order from November 3, 2022, through November 2, 2026. In accordance with Bylaw and Committee on Infractions Internal Operating Procedure 5-16-1-1, any employing member institution shall restrict former assistant football coach 1 from all athletically related activity during the show-cause period. If former assistant football coach 1 becomes employed by a member institution in an athletically related position during the four-year show-cause period, the employing institution shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the OCOI to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply.


Anonymous said...

At last check Jeff Sims now works in the house moving industry in Kansas City after MSSU fired him.

Anonymous said...

How unfortunate for Coach Bradley, who has been a major asset to MOSO football. I hope this doesn’t cause him to go elsewhere. He is doing a phenomenal job.

Anonymous said...

I can understand the coach wanting to avoid the athletic program staff, but why did THEY allow him to do so? If an employee is throwing a snit fit and avoiding you because they don't like the rules, isn't it the manager's job to track them down? The campus isn't that big. Isn't that what the administrators at MSSU were being paid the big bucks to do? What a bunch!

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing MSSU paid him $110,000 to go away in 2021, just think how much further they'd have been up sch*tt's creek with the NCAA if Coach 'Death by Heatstroke' Sims was still there today!

Anonymous said...

Another incident of Dr Marble picking up a paycheck while doing nothing. His mantra, “Don’t bring problems to my office.”

Anonymous said...

They didn’t. The athletics department met with Sims weekly and reported the issues to MSSU administrators and the board. The board hired Sims and were not supportive with the request to fire Sims by the athletic’s department administrators. The request to let Sims go came from the athletic’s department administrator and were made many months previously to the knowledge of these incidents. Sims was a cancer to the MSSU athletic’s department and when notified the MSSU administrators and board did not car and did nothing.

Anonymous said...

I heard he ignored several issues with Provost Carson who eventually got demoted by Dr Van Galen. Her reign of terror cost several thousands in payouts.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Marble ignored several Red Flags in his tenure as President. His Provost destroyed many academic programs and demoralized significant individuals who were very committed to MSSU.

Anonymous said...

Nice mantra! It was all about looking good — even insisting to inflate enrollment numbers his last year as the President— faculty and staff were told to enroll in classes so the count would go up. Provost created bogus courses to attempt to increase the numbers.

Anonymous said...

They were fixin to be legends in their own minds!

Anonymous said...

I am so Tired of Schools and Colleges - Paying these Teachers, Coaches, and Administrative Individuals out their Large Contracts, over $100,00 for doing and performing Illegal and Immoral Conduct. This is our Tax Dollars - why doesn't some intelligen individual put a Morals Clause in these Teaching and Administrator Contracts - - So they cannot walk away with a Golden Parachute for doing the WRONG THING!!!

Anonymous said...

Carson was the single worst thing to happen to MSSU in its history (and that included Bruce Speck). The fact that they let her still teach there and collect a check is unconscionable. Many people will never again donate to this once great institution. Hodson and McGrane also need to be held to account for the irreversible damage done to Southern. Soon coming #SouthernWatchReboot The real truth

Anonymous said...

This is just one of the MANY deceiving accounts of MSSU and the lack of administration involvement to keep the morals and values of the institution within check. We could literally go on and on about the unconscionable acts of MSSU administrators that repeatedly and yearly draw a significant paycheck, while their faculty and staff are paid less than optimal wages. It is beyond me why on earth the community still supports this governing board and administration team, when they do nothing but drain the community. Paula Carson was one of the WORST administrators to ever be hired by MSSU with her leadership that could be compared to the fashion of Cyndi Lauper. And sadly, the board of governors and administration allowed her to continue on her wrath of destruction with the demoralizing of the university.

The next thing that was historically devastating was the hiring of Dr. Richard Schooler. He came to MSSU with literally no education background but somehow managed to become a dean of a college without any educational background at all, well except being a OB/GYN. Hmmmm....And now, he is a dean to KCU. Those poor, poor DO students. It's a sad day in the Joplin community to see this kind of leadership being rewarded by promotion. I personally think he should spend a day serving the homeless a meal to see what needs our community has and to understand EVERYONE within the Joplin Community, not just the rich.

It is time for the community of Joplin to wake up and be more vocal to the issues that surround that college instead of just showing up for a sports game every now and then. Please. Attend the meetings, follow the agenda and minutes and think before you donate. Instead of donating to another dysfunctional campus building, donate to the students who could use the support the most, as we know all too well the struggles those students face when attending that college.

P.S. and if you don't agree with the above information, then I strongly suggest you get involved to see for yourself the type of chaos that goes on behind closed campus doors.