COLUMBIA — While Missouri waits anxiously to hear back from the NCAA on its appeal of the Committee on Infraction's sanctions against the university's football, baseball and softball teams, fans and media have kept an eye out for similar cases that resulted in different punishments from the NCAA.
The governing body of collegiate athletics released a report Friday morning that detailed academic misconduct committed by 11 student-athletes and a student tutor at Mississippi State, a very similar case to Missouri's and the impermissible benefits given by academic tutor Yolanda Kumar.
Many of the penalties given to Mississippi State were the same or similar as the punishments meted out to Missouri's athletic programs, except one: the Bulldogs were not given postseason bans for football or basketball for the violations after reaching a negotiated resolution agreement, according to the NCAA's release.
That negotiated resolution agreement is a key difference, as is the fact that, while Mississippi State self-reported and the NCAA agreed the violations were Level-I Mitigated, since staff at Mississippi State discovered and self-reported the violations, while Missouri received punishment for Level-I Standard violations.
Missouri likely would have gone through the negotiated resolution agreement as well, except the new process was implemented in August 2018, after Missouri self-reported the violations and the NCAA's investigation had started.
"In response to many questions we have received in regard to today's NCAA infractions case decision involving another Division I institution, it is important to note that the University of Missouri did not have the opportunity to utilize the NCAA's new negotiated resolution process because our case was already in process when the organization's membership adopted it," Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk said in a statement.
"We believe that the penalties imposed in the recently decided and factually similar case further illustrate that the penalties imposed on Mizzou were excessive and inconsistent with previous case precedent. We have never wavered from our stance or the merits of our appeal and remain hopeful it will be successful."
Missouri delivered its appeal in July, and a decision from the NCAA and the COI could be delivered any time between September and November.
It is also unlikely the Mississippi State case and ruling will change how the NCAA decides on Missouri's appeal, because of one key sentence in the release: "Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases."
Missouri has been pushing publicly to heighten the disparity between past judgments and their own, and the Mississippi State ruling will no doubt be a case added to that discussion. And while it may have an added effect on the court of public opinion, the NCAA will not have to fear its punishments appear unfair or capricious to the public.