Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Where to Draw the Line? a Review of Ethical Decision-Making Models for Intercollegiate Sport Managers

Academic journal article Journal of Contemporary Athletics

Where to Draw the Line? a Review of Ethical Decision-Making Models for Intercollegiate Sport Managers

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Rule violations, unethical decision-making, and instances of unethical misconduct in intercollegiate sport are ubiquitous occurrences that have been outlined by a series of prominent sport scholars (e.g., Coakley, 2009; French, 2004; Oriard, 2009; Simon, 2010; Yost, 2010). Intercollegiate sport managers, administrators, and coaches are faced with producing decisions concerning ethically-based dilemmas with their personal lives, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules and regulations, university policies, and local, state, and national laws on a daily basis. For example, one of the most prevalent rule violations in intercollegiate athletics is the use of impermissible recruiting tactics and procedures (NCAA, n.d.). According to the NCAA Legislative Services Database (LSDBi), since January of 2000, 97 member institutions have committed significant recruiting infractions that warranted recruiting sanctions handed down by the NCAA Committee on Infractions (NCAA, n.d.). In hopes to deter unethical behavior during the recruitment of potential student-athletes, the NCAA Manual devotes an entire chapter/section to review various recruiting rules and regulations (e.g., the time frame in which coaches or other personnel can contact potential student-athletes, the total number of phone calls and text messages allowed, the enticement of student-athletes with illegal benefits such as cash payments or gifts, the determination between official and unofficial campus visits). Despite this detailed account of recruiting regulations, the NCAA enforcement staff has still appeared to be overworked and outnumbered, with countless coaches across the United States continuing to violate the standardized recruiting procedures and regulations. Often, these violations occur when coaches, administrators, or athletic boosters consciously elect to make unethical choices when faced with difficult ethical decisions during the recruitment of top high school athletic recruits (Yost, 2010).

To elaborate, during the 2007-2008 season, former Indiana University men's basketball coach, Kelvin Sampson, -participated in ten three-way phone calls with prospective recruits" (Yost, 2010, p. 147). This type of phone conversation is not an uncommon manifestation for intercollegiate coaches; however, Sampson was serving probation designated by the NCAA for recruiting violations he had previously committed while acting as the head men's basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma (NCAA, 2006, 2008). During his tenure with the Oklahoma Sooner basketball program, NCAA investigators uncovered that Sampson -had participated in...577 excessive phone calls [to recruits]" (Yost, 2010, p. 148). This information led the NCAA to ban -Sampson from off-campus recruiting for one year and (bar) him from initiating phone contact with prospects" (Yost, 2010, p. 148). In addition, the University of Oklahoma was subjected to mandated annual compliance reporting, public reprimand, public censure, two years probation, and a decrease in financial aid awards (NCAA, 2006). Lastly, Sampson received a one year show cause order, which required any school interested in hiring Sampson, to undergo strict NCAA regulations, and absorb the penalties associated with the head coach (NCAA, 2006). Once employed by Indiana University, and still under probation from the NCAA, Sampson's morally suspect decisionmaking produced a comparably laundry list of sanctions for his new employer. Indiana University was unceremoniously provided with three years probation, public reprimand, public censure, mandatory annual compliance reporting, a decrease in financial aid awards, and recruiting restrictions due to Sampson's actions (NCAA, 2008). Similarly to the penalties/sanctions he received at the University of Oklahoma, Sampson received a five-year show cause order for his newest offenses (NCAA, 2008).

The Sampson recruiting incidents at the University of Oklahoma and Indiana University provide an accurate example depiction of unethical recruiting behaviors that have seemingly permeated NCAA athletics. …

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