The University of Missouri's football, baseball, and softball teams will be banned from the 2019 postseason as part of sanctions handed down by the NCAA on Thursday.
The penalties came down after a two-year investigation revealed that a former academic tutor completed academic work for 12 student-athletes.
The Associated Press reported that the former tutor, Yolanda Kumar, told the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions that she felt pressured to ensure athletes passed certain courses. But the committee’s report did not support that claim. Kumar completed online coursework that included assignments, quizzes or exams for most of the student-athletes, the report said, as well as completing an entire course for one student-athlete and portions of a placement exam for two student-athletes.
Mizzou Athletics Director Jim Sterk said the university will appeal the postseason bans, which he called "unfair." He also said the university "moved swifty and fully cooperated" with the NCAA, and that Kumar acted "unilaterally and outside the expectations" of the athletics department.
Mizzou football head coach Barry Odom echoed Sterk's remarks on Twitter, calling the committee's decision "completely unjust."
According to an NCAA news release, scholarships for all three programs will be reduced by 5 percent during the 2019-20 academic year. The committee also implemented recruiting restrictions, including:
- A seven-week ban on unofficial visits.
- A 12.5 percent reduction in official visits.
- A seven-week ban on recruiting communications.
- A seven-week ban on all off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.
- A 12.5 percent reduction in recruiting-person or evaluation days.
The NCAA compared the Mizzou case to the academic fraud scandal at North Carolina, in which the school did not receive sanctions. Though Mizzou worked with the NCAA once the fraud was brought to light, the organization's report said "UNC stood by the courses and grades it awarded student-athletes" and that the "student-athletes completed their own work."
The Tigers’ football team will be banned from the 2019-20 postseason. Last season, the team went 8-4 in regular season and lost to Oklahoma State in the Liberty Bowl.
Mizzou’s baseball and softball teams will be banned from the 2018-19 postseason. The baseball team finished the 2017-18 season with a 34-22 record; the softball team had a 30-29 record.
Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster and a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.