COLUMBIA, MO (KCTV/AP) – The University of Missouri football, softball and baseball programs were sanctioned by the NCAA on Thursday following an investigation into actions by a school tutor.
The Tigers football team is banned from the 2019-20 NCAA postseason, while the softball and baseball teams are banned from the 2018-2019 postseason.
According to the NCAA report, the former tutor, Yolanda Kumar, admitted in late 2016 she had "violated NCAA ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits rules when she completed academic work for 12 student-athletes."
Kumar told the panel that she felt pressured to ensure athletes passed certain courses, primarily in mathematics. But according to the committee's report, "the investigation did not support that her colleagues directed her to complete the student-athletes' work."
NCAA investigators said Kumar completed course work offered by Missouri, courses offered by other schools and a math placement exam required of all students. In one instance, she allegedly completed an entire course for a football player, whose name was not revealed.
The school began investigating after Kumar announced on social media that she had committed academic fraud. Earlier this year, athletic director Jim Sterk sent a letter to Kumar that she also posted on social media in which he confirmed she had provided impermissible benefits and that she could no longer be associated with the athletic department.
The NCAA acknowledged the proactive steps that Missouri took in investigating the academic fraud, but the penalties handed down to the football, baseball and softball programs were stiff.
Mizzou responded to the news midday Thursday with a pair of statements from Chancellor Alexander Cartwright and Athletic Direct Jim Sterk.
In his statement, Cartwright praised Sterk's leadership and noted the university would be appealing what he described as a "harsh and inconsistent decision" by the NCAA.
Sterk reiterated the plan for appealing, saying in part that "the Committee on Infractions has abused its discretion in applying penalties in this case" and that "it is hard to fathom that the University could be cited for exemplary cooperation throughout this case."
Statements From University of Missouri Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright & Director of Athletics Jim Sterk pic.twitter.com/Jo9ohPdQZi— Mizzou Athletics (@MizzouAthletics) January 31, 2019
In addition to the postseason bans, the university is on three years of probation, will see a five percent reduction in the amount of scholarships for the three programs during the 2019-20 academic year, will have restrictions on recruiting efforts during that same time period and will be levied a fine of $5,000 plus a percent of each of the three programs’ budgets.
The school must also vacate all games in which the 12 students whose work was completed by the tutor participated.
Kumar has already been barred by the university from working for the athletic department. She also received a 10-year show-cause order form the NCAA that bars her from working with athletes.
While the case is expected to draw comparisons to recent academic misconduct at North Carolina, the NCAA said it differed in that "UNC stood by the courses and grades it awarded student-athletes."
"In support of that position," the NCAA's report said, "UNC asserted that although courses were created and graded by an office secretary, student-athletes completed their own work. Here, by contrast, Missouri acknowledged that the tutor completed student-athletes' work and, in most instances, this conduct violated its honor code."
This is a developing story. Please stay with KCTV5 News and KCTV5.com for updates.