After spending the summer completing comprehensive investigations and issuing a self-report to the NCAA regarding the Shoe Box scandal, UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley and seven others pleaded UW’s case to the NCAA on Aug. 11.
In what is possibly the final act in a year-long drama over an extra-benefits case involving student athletes who bought shoes for a discount at The Shoe Box shoe store, Wiley admitted the school’s errors to the NCAA’s Infractions Committee in Jackson Hole, Wyo., but asked the association to allow his office to administer the majority of the punishments.
“To the extent I have answers, you will find them reflected in our corrective actions and in my choices of personal and institutional penalties,” Wiley said in his opening statement. “We have moved aggressively to constitute a more vigilant compliance environment.”
Corrective actions and penalties include a handful of disciplinary actions the UW administration took in April against the athletic department in anticipation of NCAA punishments. If it so desired, the NCAA could refuse to acknowledge UW’s participation in the 1999 Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament.
In addition, David McDonald, special assistant for athletic affairs to Wiley, announced July 12 that UW athletes, coaches and athletic administrators were banned from shopping at The Shoe Box, a Black Earth shoe store 25 miles northwest of Madison.
Casey Nagy, executive assistant to Wiley, said The Shoe Box was declared off limits because the risk of additional violations was too high.
“For the interim, until we can be confident that we are not inviting an institutional problem that we’re now in the process of trying to correct, we’re just going to go slowly,” Nagy said.
The ban, along with a three-year athletic department probation, reduction of off-campus recruiting and scholarships and a hefty fine levied by the NCAA, comes after the discovery a year ago that athletes were receiving special discounts at the shoe store.
The original violations were discovered after a July 2000 investigative report by The Wisconsin State Journal found 157 athletes in 14 sports violated NCAA rules.
The results of the hearing will determine if any further punishments by the NCAA are necessary.
The case also includes the issue of six unnamed athletes who have been suspended indefinitely due to housing violations at the Regent apartments, 1402 Regent St. UW says the players should not be suspended from games, but should repay the amount of housing benefits they received while staying at the Regent. Wiley’s closing remarks at the hearing last month expressed his regret for the incident and his motivation to keep it from happening again.
“I do not want to in any way seek to excuse why we are here,” Wiley said. “We have not been effective enough, or vigilant enough. We are at fault for these violations involving The Shoe Box … because various athletic department staff received periodic hints of a possible problem and either didn’t know what to do about them or chose to wait and do nothing until more information was available. Neither approach was acceptable, and we’re taking responsibility for that.”
Eight university officials, including Wiley and UW Athletic Director Pat Richter, attended the hearing, which took place behind closed doors. A decision is expected by late September.
— Katie Harbath contributed to this story