NCAA places UTEP on 1-year probation for violations in football, softball

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions announced on Tuesday it has placed the athletic department at UTEP on one-year probation along with a $5,000 fine for Level II violations within the football and softball programs.

According to UTEP director of athletics Jim Senter, UTEP self-reported the violations to university compliance.

As detailed in the approved agreement, the Committee on Infractions, NCAA enforcement staff, and UTEP administration agreed the football program exceeded the maximum number of allowable countable coaches, specifically, defensive and offensive quality control specialists provided skills instruction during practices. As a result, the program exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches in two academic years, from the 2018-19 academic year through spring 2020.

It was also determined the softball program, under former head coach Tobin Echo-Hawk who was fired in 2019, provided additional practice time or individual workouts to student-athletes, exceeding daily and weekly hour limitations for such activities. Echo-Hawk failed to provide a mandatory weekly day off for student-athletes and allowed graduate assistants to provide skills instruction during extra workout sessions, regular practices, and occasionally in games. This resulted in the program exceeding the maximum allowable countable coaches in at least four separate academic years, from the 2016-17 academic year through November 2019.

UTEP head football coach Dana Dimel and Echo-Hawk each receive a one-year show-cause for the violations. In addition, the number of permissible countable athletically related activities hours in softball has been reduced for the 2021-22 academic year. The number of countable coaches for football and softball has also been reduced by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.

Penalties, approved by the Committee on Infractions, are detailed below:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former softball head coach, including a four-week suspension from all coaching activities and a suspension from 15% of regular- season contests at any school that employs her.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the football head coach, including a four-day suspension from all coaching activities and a 10-day suspension from off-campus recruiting during the 2020-21 football contact period.
  • A reduction in permissible countable athletically related activities hours in softball from 20 to 18 during the regular season and from eight to seven during the off-season during the 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of softball countable coaches by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of football countable coaches by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.

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 Thomas Hill, senior vice president emeritus at Iowa State; Joel Maturi, chief hearing officer for the panel and former director of athletics at Minnesota; and Mary Schutten, executive vice president and provost at Central Michigan.

STATEMENT FROM DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS JIM SENTER

“We alerted our compliance staff as soon as we became aware of the potential infractions.  I would like to thank them for their diligence in conducting interviews, compiling information and submitting a thorough report to the NCAA.  We are committed to running our department with integrity.  We will continue to monitor all of our sports programs to ensure that they are operating in compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.  We will also continue to provide comprehensive rules education to all of our coaches and staff.”

STATEMENT FROM FOOTBALL HEAD COACH DANA DIMEL

“I am committed and will ensure that we do a better job of following all NCAA rules.  It is my responsibility to create an atmosphere of compliance on my staff and within our football program.  I acknowledge that I need to do a better job moving forward, and accept the NCAA’s penalties for this violation.”

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