On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions handed down probation on the Tech women’s basketball team for practice violations that took place during former head coach MaChelle Joseph’s tenure from 2016 to February 2019, when she was relieved from her post.
This marks the second time in the last few years the NCAA has sanctioned the basketball program at Tech. The men’s team was sanctioned in 2019, but the penalties were lifted this past February in time for March Madness 2021.
The women’s team’s violations included practice times going longer than NCAA rules permit, which also included practices on off days.
Penalties include three years of probation, along with a $5,000 self-imposed fine. One percent of the women’s basketball budget will also be fined. The team will still be allowed to participate in the NCAA Tournament during the probationary period.
Because the men’s basketball team is still serving their probation, the women’s three year probation will be added on at the end of the men’s probation. If no more sentences are handed down, Tech basketball will be out of probationary status for the 2027 season.
An outside agency will conduct a compliance review with the Tech Athletic Department, prompted by the fact that both basketball teams have been sanctioned recently.
The final piece of the sanctions was a reduction in “countable athletically related activities,” (CARA) which was fully served by the end of the Spring 2021 semester by the team over the course of two seasons. These penalties were also self-imposed.
According to the NCAA’s findings, “Each week, the director of women’s basketball operations provided student-athletes with the practice schedule. However, a former women’s basketball assistant coach would notify student-athletes on the day before or day of practice that the schedule had changed, frequently requiring the team to report to practice early. Additionally, according to multiple student-athletes, the team was regularly scheduled to practice an hour or more longer than scheduled.”
In Tech’s statement about the sanctions, it was noted that Tech “demonstrated exemplary cooperation during the NCAA enforcement staff’s investigation.”
None of the sanctions affect this year’s team, of which Athletic Director, Todd Stansbury, was glad to see.
“We remain pleased that the Committee on Infractions did not find any institutional violations in this matter. While we do not necessarily agree with all of the conclusions that the Committee came to, we are pleased that this case has come to a resolution and that our current student-athletes and coaching staff can move on knowing that they will not have to serve any punishment for infractions that they had no part in and have not provided them with any competitive advantage,” said Stansbury in his official statement.
On the flip side, Joseph in her statement noted that her CARA logs were never in question, and that players continually came back to Atlanta to coach with her following their playing career at Tech.
“I must note that in my 16 years at Georgia Tech, no one has ever questioned my CARA log practices or suggested any violations. I am extremely proud of my record of compliance at Georgia Tech and also of my culture in my program. The NCAA’s seemingly gratuitous reference to that culture is belied by the large number of my players who returned to Georgia Tech to work for me as staff members,” said Joseph.
The NCAA was also investigating Tech for recruiting violations in the same time frame during Joseph’s tenure, but were cleared from those.
While the NCAA provided no definition to “probation” in their statement, it effectively means that if Tech breaks any more NCAA rules, they could have harsher sanctions than other, non-probational teams would face levied on them.