UCSD Crew Team Put on Probation after NCAA Investigation

 

           In a press conference held Aug. 6, the NCAA Committee on Infractions told reporters that women’s crew head coach Pattie Pinkerton and a former assistant coach, who the NCAA indicated was Julia White-Hoppe, had knowingly allowed ineligible athletes to travel and compete with the team during the 2010–11 and 2011–12 seasons.


“The university failed to monitor its women’s rowing program when it did not review travel documents to ensure that only eligible student-athletes traveled to events and did not review student-athlete surveys that identified the violations,” Division-II Committee on Infractions Vice Chair Julie Rochester said during a Tuesday morning press teleconference.


           Ineligible players had illegally competed in meets under the names of other athletes who were eligible. According to the committee, five athletes had illegally travelled with the team under fake names, and among them, three had competed against the rules.


           Some players had signed for official team meals under pseudonyms or palindromic initials.


           Pinkerton, the report said, bore responsibility for both the eligibility and drug infractions as well as lying to the NCAA during a hearing. White-Hoppe was responsible for having lied to the committee during the investigation about her knowledge of a single ineligible athlete who was competing. The committee found both coaches to be responsible for all violations.


            “The committee noted that the former assistant coach felt obligated to follow the former head coach’s directions to allow a student-athlete to compete while ineligible,” Rochester said. “However, every coach has an obligation to comply with the rules and be truthful when questioned.”


Additionally, the committee found, the coaches illegally gave prescription anti-inflammatory drugs to six athletes on 24 different occasions.


Six student-athletes reported that Pinkerton had given them Voltaren between five and 10 times during the 2011–12 season, although none of them had a prescription for the drug. One team member, according to the report, used Voltaren twice a week for an entire month to help with an elbow injury.


In May 2012, Pinkerton admitted to university officials that she had “occasionally” given Voltaren to athletes and had acquired it in England and Canada.

All six athletes were reportedly told they could acquire the drugs if purchased independently and were instructed “not to tell anyone.”


The NCAA declined to refer to either coach by name. But both Pinkerton and White-Hoppe — along with assistant coach Jack Vallerga, who was not referenced in the committee report — departed after the 2011–12 season. Former men’s crew assistant coach Colin Truex replaced Pinkerton last summer.


           According to the report, both Pinkerton and White-Hoppe were fired on May 29, 2012 after interviews with the university regarding travel receipts from the previous week. This followed a May 9, 2012 meeting between nine crew athletes and the associate athletic director who oversaw crew, wherein the athletes submitted a four-page list of grievances against Pinkerton.


Between July 2012 and March 2013, the NCAA ran an investigation into the original complaints and discovered the anti-inflammatory drug violations in the process, following a self-report of possible infractions that UCSD filed on June 13, 2012.


The report also named UCSD responsible for inadequate review of travel documents that led to the infractions.


Aside from vacating all of the team’s results and records achieved during the meets that ineligible athletes participated in, the UCSD Athletic Department will pay a $2,500 fine to the NCAA and will be subject to public reprimand and censure, and Pinkerton will face a three-year show-cause order. The show-cause will prevent Pinkerton from involvement in intercollegiate athletics throughout its duration.


The team will also enter a probationary period until Aug. 5, 2014. White-Hoppe will receive a one-year show cause. The vacation of results and the fine were both self-imposed by the university.


“We take these infractions very seriously,” UCSD Athletics Director Earl Edwards said. “As soon as we learned of the allegations, we reported them to the NCAA and a thorough investigation was conducted. Appropriate punitive and corrective actions were immediately taken, including the termination of the coach responsible for the violations.”


            After the report was released on Aug. 6, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla released a statement saying that the university accepted full responsibility for the infractions and announced changes that the administration would plan to institute to make the athletic program more accountable.


           “Some of our changes include amending the reporting structure for spring sport supervision in order to enhance monitoring and ensure compliance, as well as adding bystander intervention education for our assistant coaches and student-athletes,” Khosla wrote in the statement.

 

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