STARKVILLE • Mississippi State’s football and men’s basketball programs were reprimanded by the NCAA over academic misconduct by a former MSU student and part-time tutor for the athletics department.
Both programs will also receive three years of probation and records of games in which the student-athletes competed while ineligible will be vacated.
The NCAA enforcement staff and the university both agreed that the former tutor “completed multiple assignments, exams and in some instances, nearly the entire course for student-athletes” in an online chemistry course for 10 football players and one men’s basketball player.
The agreement stated that eight of those football players and the basketball player competed while ineligible due to the academic misconduct.
Men’s basketball player Nick Weatherspoon was suspended for the final 10 games last season for “a violation of team rules.” Football head coach Joe Moorhead stated he would address any suspensions next week.
MSU self-reported the violations to the NCAA.
“Our staff at Mississippi State was proactive in our preventative measures, quick to respond, and worked in full cooperation with the NCAA enforcement staff,” MSU director of athletics John Cohen said in a statement. “With all of the compliance training that our staff and student-athletes go through on a year-round basis, it is unfortunate that a student serving as a part-time tutor was able to lead our student-athletes astray.
“Nevertheless, we take full responsibility for these actions. Mississippi State will work diligently to continue a culture of compliance and continue to take proactive measures moving forward.”
As a result of the academic misconduct, Mississippi State incurred a fine of $5,000 and one percent of the football and men’s basketball budgets, a reduction of two football scholarships during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years and one men’s basketball scholarship in 2021-22.
Official football visits will be reduced by four this year and two for men’s basketball for 2019-20 and 2020-21. The football program has been docked unofficial visits for one home game over the next three years and two unofficial visits for home games in men’s basketball in the next two seasons.
Football evaluation days this fall are reduced by two and 10 during the spring. Men’s basketball recruiting-person days in spring 2020 have been reduced by six.
The university must disassociate itself with the tutor and the tutor received a 10-year show-cause order.
“Academic integrity is a core value at Mississippi State and that value guides our policies and decisions,” said MSU president Dr. Mark Keenum. “Unfortunately, young people sometimes make poor decisions and those decisions have consequences. When the university learned of possible serious instances of academic misconduct involving student athletes and a student tutor employed part-time by MSU Athletic Academics, we were compelled to remove the student tutor from university employment, fully and independently investigate the matter, and then self-report the misconduct to the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
“These actions likewise have consequences for the university, but our commitment to operating a competitive athletic program within NCAA guidelines is unwavering – as is our commitment to integrity, transparency and accountability in all university conduct.”