The Mississippi State football and basketball programs have been placed on probation.
In a release by the NCAA, it has been found that a former Mississippi State student and part-time athletics department tutor “committed academic misconduct in an online general chemistry course to aid 10 football student-athletes and a men’s basketball student-athlete.”
According to the report, the former tutor completed “multiple assignments, exams and, in some instances, nearly the entire course for student-athletes.”
As a result, said athletes competed while ineligible.
The NCAA agreed upon Level I-mitigated penalties for the university, with the former tutor also receiving a penalty.
Those penalties are detailed below:
- A fine of $5,000, plus 1% each of the football and men’s basketball budgets.
- A reduction of two football scholarships during each of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
- A reduction of one men’s basketball scholarship during the 2020-21 academic year.
- A reduction of four football official visits from the program’s four-year average of 40 visits during the 2019-20 academic year.
- A reduction of two men’s basketball official visits from the program’s four-year average of 10 visits during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 rolling two-year period.
- A prohibition of football unofficial visits during one home contest for the 2019-20, 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.
- A prohibition of men’s basketball unofficial visits during two home contests for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years.
- A reduction of football evaluation days by two in the fall 2019 and 10 in spring 2020.
- A reduction of men’s basketball recruiting-person days by six in the spring of 2020.
- Three years of probation.
- A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.
- A disassociation of the former tutor.
- All involved student-athletes must conduct one rules education session on the consequences of academic misconduct.
- Participation in the National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals program review and Academic Integrity Assessment process.
- A 10-year show-cause order for the former tutor. During that period, any NCAA member school employing her must restrict her from any athletically related duties unless it shows cause why the restrictions should not apply.
According to Steve Robertson of 247Sports, Mississippi State will be forced to vacate a “number of wins from the 2018 football season and 2018-19 basketball season.” As for the individual student-athletes involved, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the ten individuals from having their names publicly disclosed in any NCAA or University release due to student privacy concerns.
That being said, the basketball player in question is almost certainly guard Nick Weatherspoon, who was removed from the starting lineup prior to the team’s matchup against Arkansas on February 16 this past year. Weatherspoon missed thee remainder of the season, including both the SEC and NCAA tournaments due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.