NCAA releases decision on 2019 Missouri State volleyball violations

Sports

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- According to the NCAA, the Missouri State women’s volleyball program committed numerous violations involving recruiting, benefits, athletically related activities outside the playing season, and impermissible coaching activity, according to a decision released by a Division I Committee on Infractions hearing panel.

Melissa Stokes, the former MSU women’s volleyball head coach was involved in many of the violations and violated the rules of head coaching. These violations first reported in 2019, resulted in Missouri State not monitoring its women’s volleyball program correctly.

The NCAA says over the course of three years, Stokes not only provided but gave her staff permission to give around $16,200 in impermissible recruiting inducements and benefits. The benefits mostly focused on free or reduced-cost housing, which included rental properties owned by the head coach.

Academic assistance like tutoring was also arranged by the coach and staff to help two prospects meet the requirements of eligibility. In actuality, this helped 13 student-athletes compete while technically still ineligible.

Coach Stokes also encouraged enrolled student-athletes to be part of summer volleyball camps, which was a violation of countable athletically related activity rules. The list of violations goes on. Melissa Stokes stepped down from her head coach position in 2019 and was interviewed by NCAA enforcement staff where she gave false and or misleading information.

The NCAA panel said that the MSU compliance office didn’t follow standard business practices, like spot-checking practices and camps. The panel considered all the mitigating factors surrounding the case and classified it as a Level I-Standard for the school and Level-I Aggravated for the former head coach.

The following penalty guidelines were approved by the Division 1 membership and prescribed the following:

  • Three years of probation.
  • A one-year postseason ban.
  • A fine of $5,000 plus 1% of the women’s volleyball program budget.
  • A 5% scholarship reduction.
  • A 12.5% reduction in official visits during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed).
  • A three-week ban on unofficial visits during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed). An additional four-week ban on unofficial visits for one year during the probation period.
  • A three-week ban on all recruiting communications during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed). An additional four-week ban on all recruiting communications for one year during the probation period.
  • A five-day reduction in evaluation days during the 2019-20 academic year (self-imposed). An additional five-day reduction in evaluation days for one year during the probation period.
  • A five-year show-cause order for the former head coach.
  • Should the former head coach become employed in an athletically related position within the membership, she will be suspended for 50% of regular-season contests in the first season after the show-cause order.
  • A vacation of team and individual records of contests in which student-athletes participated while ineligible.
  • Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Stephen Madva, attorney in private practice; Joel Maturi, former Minnesota athletics director; Joe Novak, former football head coach at Northern Illinois; Jill Redmond, executive senior associate commissioner at the Atlantic 10 Conference; David M. Roberts, special assistant to the athletics director at Southern California; Tom Sullivan, president emeritus of Vermont; and Sankar Suryanarayan, chief hearing officer for the panel and university counsel at Princeton.

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