Jasmine Todd's career at the University of Oregon saw an untimely end in 2016, but the controversy surrounding it will persist far into next year.
After self-reporting an NCAA infraction ostensibly involving former sprint standout Todd more than a year ago, the Oregon track and field program now faces a Level II violation. In a statement, the Oregon athletic department wrote it would contest the severity, as reported by Steve Mims of The Register-Guard.
Level II violations — the second-most severe in the NCAA's hierarchy of infractions — can be accompanied by one or more penalties in the form of postseason bans, scholarship reductions, or coach suspensions.
“After careful review of the notice, the UO acknowledges that infractions occurred and takes responsibility for the actions of the involved staff members,” Oregon wrote in a statement. “The university, however, disagrees with the level of infraction that NCAA enforcement staff has assigned to some of the charges as well as with the decision to level charges against two of our head coaches. In those instances, the facts do not support the enforcement staff’s position nor does NCAA case precedent, and we plan to defend the university, our faculty, and our head coaches.”
The NCAA's full notice of allegations against the track and field program all but expressly implicates Todd's career-ending circumstances, but redacts the questioned student-athlete's name.
During the 2015-2016 indoor season, Todd took the online class Scientific Racism — the same course cited in the notice of allegations. According to Todd, the class was open from Thursday to Saturday, the window when all assignments were required to be submitted for a weekly grade. Todd knew she would be on the road with the track team nearly every weekend from Thursday through Saturday, so she asked the professor if she could submit her assignments at a later date.
"He (the professor) said turn everything in when you can, I understand," Todd told FloTrack in June of 2016.
The breakdown occurred when Todd turned in her final assignment after the NCAA Indoor Championships. The course had ended, but per their agreement, the professor accepted her assignment and changed her grade from a F to a B. Later, after internal debate, Todd's grade was considered invalid, as the professor's agreement was "against university policy." But it took eight weeks for this news to reach Todd and her coaches. During the 2016 NCAA West Preliminary meet, head coach Robert Johnson had to pull Todd from the track as she was preparing to race the 100m prelims.
The NCAA's interpretation of these events, as outlined in their notice, alleges the professor "knowingly arranged for fraudulent academic credit or false transcripts," leading Oregon to "erroneously award a degree ... and establish her eligibility for the following academic term." This allowed said student-athlete to compete four times while he or she should have been ineligible, as further evidenced by the university revoking the grade and the resulting bachelor's degree upon uncovering the situation.
Consequently, the NCAA categorized the violation as Level II, which includes infractions that "provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws."
Oregon also self-reported six rules violations in three other athletic programs: football and men's and women's basketball.