York (NY) vacates 2014 CUNYAC title due to violations

More news about: York (N.Y.)
Ronald St. John, who was the Cardinals' men's basketball coach and athletic director during the period of violations, received a three-year show-cause provision.
CUNYAC athletics photo

The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions found that the York (N.Y.) men's basketball program committed three major violations related to the use of ineligible athletes and failed to monitor that process over a four year-period when Ronald St. John was the head coach and athletic director. 

York men's basketball received two years of probation, a $4,000 fine and will be required to vacate the wins in any games those athletes played, including the Cardinals' run to the 2014 CUNYAC title and the second round of the NCAA Tournament. St. John, who was removed from his position in April 2015, received a three-year show-clause provision that will limit his ability to land another coaching job over that period.

According to the report, York certified the eligibility for two athletes during the 2011-12 academic year who did not attain the 2.0-minimum grade point average (GPA) that the CUNYAC requires for participation. The next year the College certified the eligibility for one athlete who did not reach the minimum GPA and another who did not enroll in the minimum number of credit hours to allow participation in athletic events. In 2013-14 St. John certified the eligibility of two student athletes whose GPA fell below the minimum GPA. The following season the College failed to certify the eligibility of two student athletes who participated in one game with GPA's below the 2.0-minimum.

While the NCAA found that St. John certified six of the eight athletes without knowledge of their ineligibilty, the report indicates more deliberation violations of rules during 2013-14. According to the report, York's compliance coordinator and an assistant coach told St. John that four players were ineligible according to the minimum GPA position. He removed two of the four athletes, but left two "who had considerably more playing time than the two student-athletes he removed from the roster." The NCAA does not release the names of the ineligible athletes in its report.

During the investigation, St. John denied that he deliberately certified the eligibility of two ineligible student athletes. According to the NCAA's report, York College removed St. John from his head coaching position in April 2015. In October 2015 the College announced that St. John had voluntarily stepped down to focus on his job as Athletic Director. The College moved to terminate St. John from his position in November 2015, which is pending in arbitration.

St. John coached the Cardinals for 27 seasons and won three CUNYAC titles in 1997, 2006 and 2007. The Cardinals' will vacate the 2014 title and the NCAA Tournament first round victory over Rhode Island College. York lost to Amherst 63-51 in the second round of the Tournament.

Penalties and corrective measures include:                           

  • Public reprimand and censure for the college.
  • Two years of probation for the college from May 17, 2017 through May 18, 2019.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the former head coach from May 19, 2017, through May 18, 2020. If the former head coach is employed by an NCAA member school and an NCAA school hires him in an athletically related position, he and the school have an opportunity to appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine if the former coach’s athletically related duties should be limited
  • A vacation of wins in which men’s basketball student-athletes competed while ineligible. The college will identify the games impacted following the release of the public report. 
  • Attendance by the athletics director, the chief compliance administrator and the athletics director’s supervisor at an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at least once during the probation period.
  • A $4,000 fine.

Members of the Division III Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Amy Hackett, committee chair and director of athletics at Puget Sound; Effel Harper, associate professor and faculty representative at Mary Hardin-Baylor; Brian Halloran, private attorney; Nancy Meyer, director of women's athletics at Calvin; and Gerald Young, athletics director at Carleton.

York is the second CUNYAC program to receive punishment for NCAA violations in the last 12 months. The Baruch women's program received similar sanctions, plus a two-year post-season ban, in June 2016.