College Sports

Serious NCAA rules violations result in 3-year probation for Sac State tennis program

FILE -- A basket of practice tennis balls.
FILE -- A basket of practice tennis balls. Sacramento Bee File

An NCAA committee found that Sacramento State's tennis program committed a number of violations — in areas ranging from recruiting to ethics to financial aid — occurring between 2012-2016. Among other punishments, the NCAA placed the program on probation for the next three years, according to a report and accompanying news release posted Thursday.

The probation period will last through April 18, 2021, and includes both Sac State's men's and women's tennis teams.

The NCAA report by the Committee on Infractions panel found that the tennis program's former director "took advantage of a permissive compliance agreement" and that his illicit conduct was intentional.

Specifically, the report says the former director arranged for a booster to pay tuition for two athletes on the women's tennis team after the university had not renewed those students' scholarships. The director also gave students and prospects "impermissible housing arrangements, free tennis instruction and facility use at a local tennis club he owned," the report states.

While the NCAA report does not provide any names, campus newspaper The State Hornet identified the former director as previous director Bill Campbell.

Campbell coached the women's tennis team from 1999-2006 and served as director of the tennis program from 2006 to 2016, according to his athletics department bio. He also owns Spare Time, Inc., and Rio Del Oro Racquet Club, according to the bio.

FILE -- CSUS women's tennis coach Bill Campbell, May 4, 2004. Jay Mather Sacramento Bee File

Though Sac State has tennis courts on campus, the team practiced and played at nearby Rio Del Oro until the 2016-17 season.

Additionally, the NCAA said Sac State failed to meet medical examination requirements. This included letting nurse practitioners perform student-athlete exams (which was not allowed at the time), failure to perform sickle cell tests in a timely manner and failure to require medical exams before tryouts.

The NCAA report further says that the former men's and women's coaches also each acted improperly, and that their lack of oversight allowed the former director's violations to go unnoticed and/or unreported.

The State Hornet identified these coaches as women's coach Dima Hrynashka, who was released after the 2015-16 season despite still being under contract, and Slava Konikov, who left his position this January, reportedly so that he could coach pro and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

In recommending ways for schools to avoid such violations, the NCAA wrote that Sac State did not allocate the resources or attention necessary to maintain a tennis program off-campus. "If programs must be conducted off-campus, the panel advises that regular spot-checking and enhanced compliance education with the staffs are imperative," the report reads.

The infractions panel called for a five-year show-cause order for Campbell, and two-year show-cause orders for Konikov, Hyrnashka and a former volunteer assistant coach who was also accused of ethics violations.

A show-cause order, in the NCAA, is a severe penalty imposing restrictions and/or sanctions that follow the coach to any NCAA-sponsored school he or she is employed at for the length of the order.

In addition to the probation and show-cause penalties, the women's team must vacate all records from the period in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. Sac State has 45 days to self-report matches that shall be vacated.

The university additionally self-imposed a postseason ban for the women's team, effective 2016-17 and 2017-18. Other self-imposed penalties include restrictions to scholarships, recruiting and travel, as well as a $5,000 fine.

The Hornets women's tennis team dominated the Big Sky Conference, winning 15 consecutive league championships from 2002-16 and went 113-4 in regular-season conference play, according to the team's record book, with three of those defeats coming in a single losing streak in 2014.

Campbell won Big Sky Coach of the Year honors four straight seasons, 2002-06.

The statement says the university learned of alleged violations in July 2016 and "began working with the NCAA immediately." Student-athletes declared ineligible were reinstated at the start of 2017-18, according to a response statement issued by the Hornets athletics department.

Athletic director Mark Orr said in the statement: “Sacramento State athletics expects a high level of compliance in all of our operations. We have taken actions to support NCAA compliance oversight and continue to educate our coaches and staff on all NCAA bylaws. We are pleased that the NCAA Committee on Infractions recognized our University’s exemplary cooperation during the investigation of these violations.”

Orr became athletic director in March 2017, replacing interim director John Volek.

Note: A previous version of this story identified two women's tennis athletes for whom tuition was allegedly paid by boosters. Those names have been removed pending investigation by the university.