Glossary of terms

Committee on Infractions (COI): Each NCAA division has its own Committee on Infractions. The committees are independent groups that assess penalties against schools and individuals who break NCAA rules. The committees are composed of lawyers, law school professors from member schools and representatives of the general public.

Death Penalty: The ‘death penalty’ is a phrase used by media to describe the most serious NCAA penalties possible.  It is not a formal NCAA term.  It applies  only to repeat violators and can include eliminating the involved sport for at least one year, the elimination of athletics aid in that sport for two years and the school relinquishing its Association voting privileges for a four-year period.  A school is a repeat violator if a second major violation occurs within five years of the start date of the penalty from the first case. The cases do not have to be in the same sport.

Division I Committee on Infractions: This committee has 10 members. Seven are from member schools and three are from the general public. At least two of the members must be women. Two of the ten members serve as the coordinators of appeals – they attend the hearings, are present during discussion but do not participate in the committee’s decision-making. Their sole responsibility is to represent the COI on any matters appealed to the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.

Division II Committee on Infractions: This committee has six members; five are from Division II member schools and one is from the general public. At least one member must be female. One of the members is a non-voting member and is the liaison to the Division II President’s Council, the highest Division II governance body.

Division III Committee on Infractions: This committee has five members.  Four are from member schools and one is from the general public. At least one member of the committee is a woman.

Enforcement staff: A staff of approximately 30 specialists based in Indianapolis that works to equitably resolve infractions cases, deter future violators and ensures a level playing field for all NCAA student-athletes.

Infractions Appeals Committee: Each NCAA division has its own Infractions Appeals Committees.  These committees hear the appeals of penalized schools and act on the findings of major violations by the Committee on Infractions. The committees are made up of five members.  Of the five, at least one must be a member of the general public and shall not be affiliated with the involved school in any manner.  The remaining members shall be or previously have been on the staff of a member institution or a member conference but shall not serve presently on the NCAA Board of Directors.   

Letter of Inquiry: When the enforcement staff begins an investigation, they send a letter of inquiry to the president or chancellor. The purpose of this notice is to inform school leadership the enforcement staff will be investigating possible NCAA violations at their school. The alleged facts of the case are also presented and other details are provided including an approximate time frame of the investigation.

Major infraction: A major infraction is any violation that is not considered secondary.  Major infractions usually provide an extensive recruiting or competitive advantage.  Alleged major infractions are investigated by enforcement staff and can lead to severe penalties against the school and involved individuals.

Notice of Allegation: When the enforcement staff determines there is enough evidence to indicate major infractions, they send a notice of allegations to senior leadership at the school. The letter informs them of the inquiry and requests their cooperation during the investigation.

Repeat Violators: A school is considered a repeat violator if the Committee on Infractions finds a major violation has occurred within five years of the starting date of a major penalty.  For this provision to apply, at least on major violation must have occurred within five years after the starting date of the penalties in the previous case.

Secondary violation: A secondary violation is an isolated or inadvertent violation that provides or intends to provide only minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantages. Secondary violations do not include extra benefits or any significant recruiting benefits. If a school commits several secondary violations, they may collectively be considered a major infraction. Secondary violations occur frequently and are usually resolved administratively.

Summary Disposition: Summary disposition is a cooperative process between the school, involved individuals and the NCAA enforcement staff.  If these groups agree about the facts and the penalties presented in the report, an in-person hearing may be averted depending on the Committee of Infractions. The COI reviews the report in private and decides to either accept the findings and penalties or conduct an expedited hearing.  A school that would become a repeat-violator cannot use the summary disposition process and must go before the Committee on Infractions.