Volleyball program violates NCAA rule


In the spring of 2010, the Webster University women’s volleyball team played in matches that violated NCAA rules. According to the NCAA, volleyball participation in the spring is limited to 15 practice dates and one date of competition over a five-week period.
“The women’s volleyball team participated in scrimmages last spring that were in violation of an NCAA rule,” said Webster Athletics Director Tom Hart. “They played in games that were beyond NCAA acceptance.”
A player currently on the team, who asked to remain anonymous, said the Gorloks broke the rules by playing additional spring matches against Maryville and Lindenwood in the Lincoln Land tournament last spring. The coaching staff falsely believed that as long as coaches were not involved, the team’s additional games could be played, the player said.
“I can’t comment on a specific situation,” said Will Wolper, the commissioner of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “But generally speaking, volleyball teams are allowed one day of competition during the spring. They can play up to three matches and 15 games in total during that day.”
Hart said he became aware of the situation when the softball team was looking at legislation for potential scrimmages in September 2010.
“When we looked at the information for softball, it made us look at the volleyball situation,” Hart said. “When we realized something was wrong, we addressed it.”
According to Hart, the NCAA must be informed, and action must be taken when it is determined that an NCAA rule has been broken..
“The first thing we did was alert the NCAA,” Hart said. “The second thing was we eliminated some dates from the spring season. We eliminated three practices and the date of competition as a way of self-policing for this spring.”
Hart said Webster reported to the NCAA in a timely manner.
“We can report these things to the NCAA in one of three ways: once a year, once a quarter, or as it happens,” Hart said. “We responded to the NCAA in November of 2010.”
Hart said even though he goes to regional seminar meetings frequently, the NCAA rulebook is thick, and new rules and applications are added all of the time.
“It’s important to realize that institutions have different operating guidelines,” Hart said. “For example, Division l and ll basketball start dates are different from Division lll. It’s very confusing.”
Wolper said that if a school played additional matches as described, it would be considered a level two violation, which is a minor violation.
“It’s not right to break the rules, but this violation would be very minor compared to other violations you hear in the media today,” Wolper said.
Webster has not heard back from the NCAA on disciplinary action it may take, but it is unlikely any further action will be taken.
Attempts to reach volleyball coach and NCAA compliance coordinator Merry Graf were unsuccessful.

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