Hearing Procedures for Permission to Speak

Policies and Procedures for Transfer Permission to Contact

Permission to Contact. Student-athletes wishing to transfer away from UMass and to another university affiliated with the NCAA are bound by NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3. No communication, directly or indirectly, can occur with another institution without the expressed written consent of the University of Massachusetts. Student-athletes wishing to obtain official Permission to Contact other schools (i.e., a release) must make that request in writing and submit it to the Head Coach of their athletic team. The Head Coach will make the decision to grant or deny the permission to contact and then subsequently communicate the decision to the Compliance Office. Whatever decision is made, the Compliance Office shall then communicate the decision to the student-athlete in writing, including notification of the right of the student-athlete to formally appeal the decision. If a student-athlete wishes to appeal the decision, then the student-athlete must follow the Formal Hearing Process outlined in section III below.

Pursuant to an NCAA rule interpretation from May 1988, universities have the right to place restrictions on the Permission to Contact. It is the general policy of UMass Athletics to place the following restrictions on all student-athletes who are wishing to transfer, regardless of their sport:

• Generally, the student-athlete may not have contact with any member schools of the Atlantic 10 or Mid-American Conference, and
• The Head Coach of the program, at their discretion, may impose further restrictions on the Permission to Contact.

Please also note that the A10 and MAC Conferences have "Intra-Conference Transfer Rules" which may affect the eligibility of a student-athlete wishing to transfer from one conference member school to another, depending on their chosen sport.

 

I. GENERAL POLICY
NCAA Regulations Covered. The following NCAA regulations are the genesis for this policy and these procedures:

NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3 - Four-Year College Prospective Student-Athletes. An athletics staff member or other representative of the institution's athletics interests shall not make contact with the student-athlete of another NCAA or NAIA four-year collegiate institution, directly or indirectly, without first obtaining the written permission of the first institution's athletics director (or an athletics administrator designated by the athletics director) to do so, regardless of who makes the initial contact. If permission is not granted, the second institution shall not encourage the transfer and the institution shall not provide athletically related financial assistance to the student-athlete until the student-athlete has attended the second institution for one academic year. If permission is granted to contact the student-athlete, all applicable NCAA recruiting rules apply.

NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3.1 - Hearing Opportunity. If the institution decides to deny a student-athlete's request to permit any other institution to contact the student-athlete about transferring, the institution shall inform the student-athlete in writing that he or she, upon request, shall be provided a hearing conducted by an institutional entity or committee outside of the athletics department (e.g., the office of student affairs; office of the dean of students; or a committee composed of the faculty athletics representative, student-athletes and non-athletics faculty/staff members). The institution shall have established reasonable procedures for promptly hearing such a request.

II. SCOPE
Range of the Process. This procedural process is modeled on the University Grievance Policy in order to provide fairness in the hearing of complaints in a similar manner to how the University handles grievances for all students generally. More specifically, this policy provides a process that may be used to resolve grievances among student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff at UMass in relation to Permission to Contact and athletically related financial aid. In particular, this process is applicable only to:

(1) Grievances regarding the denial of Permission to Contact (i.e., a release) pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3,
(2) Grievances regarding the reduction or termination of athletically related financial aid during the period of the award, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 15.3.4 (reduction or cancellation during the period of the award), and
(3) Grievances regarding the reduction or termination of athletically related financial aid at the end of the academic year, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 15.3.5 (renewal or non-renewal for the subsequent academic year).

This process shall not be used to challenge any other Athletics policies or actions, nor shall it be used to challenge University policies and procedures of general applicability. Any other grievances must be handled through normal University entities and procedures.

III. APPEAL PROCESS
Informal Resolution. The goal of informal resolutions is to resolve disputes among student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff without resort to a formal grievance procedure. Individuals should make reasonable and good faith efforts to resolve disputes with each other directly, promptly, and informally. Persons seeking to resolve a dispute informally may seek the assistance of staff members of the Athletics Compliance Office, as appropriate.

Formal Hearing Process. If informal resolution is not possible and not accomplished, then the grievant may initiate a formal hearing process. In order to initiate the process, the grievant shall submit a written request for an appeal to the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance within 14 calendar days of the transfer denial or financial aid reduction/termination. Any requests submitted after the expiration of 14 calendar days are rendered unacceptable and will not be heard or examined. Further, all requests must describe the reasons that the grievant believes the transfer denial or financial aid reduction/termination should be overturned.

Composition of Hearing Committees. If a formal hearing is appropriately requested, then a committee of individuals from outside the Athletics Department shall be convened to hear the complaint. The Faculty Athletics Representative serves as the Chair of the Hearing Committee for Appeals of Transfers.  The Chair has the authority to appoint members to their committee. The Hearing Committee, in any circumstances, will consist of three members:

Appeals of Transfers

• The Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR) will serve as the Chair of this Committee,
• Two other members of the Athletics Council, chosen by the FAR.

Notification of Hearing. If a formal hearing is appropriately requested, then the Hearing Committee shall set a date to hear the appeal of the grievant within 14 calendar days of receipt of the grievant’ s request. The hearing will occur on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. The Chair shall notify both the grievant and respondent of the composition of the Hearing Committee, as well as the date, time and venue for the Hearing. Objections to the participation of the particular Hearing Committee members must be submitted in writing to the Committee Chair in advance of the Hearing. The Chair's decision on the objection is final and binding.

Ex-Parte Communication. No member of the Hearing Committee may directly or indirectly communicate in connection with an issue relevant to the appeal with the grievant or respondent, their representatives or any other person associated with a party to the appeal, except on notice and opportunity for the grievant and respondent to participate.

IV. HEARING COMMITTEE PROCEDURES
Who May Attend. Only members of the Hearing Committee, the grievant, and the respondent may attend the full Hearing. Other witnesses may be present only if giving pertinent testimony. A committee member shall be disqualified if the member determines that he or she could not act without unfair bias or prejudice in reaching a decision.

Note that the hearing process is an internal, professional procedure for resolving disputes; therefore it should not be construed as a formal legal proceeding. Thus, while an individual may seek legal advice pertaining to the process, lawyers representing the grievant or respondent (or their witnesses) are specifically prohibited from attending any portion of the Hearing.

Telephone Option. If it is not possible for the grievant to appear in person for the hearing, the committee will allow him or her to phone in or Skype.

Decorum. Proper and professional decorum is required during the Hearing. The Chair may exclude from the Hearing any person who fails to maintain a proper and professional decorum.

Evidence and/or Documentation. The grievant and the respondent may introduce evidence and/or documentation at the Hearing. No rigid rules of evidence will be in effect. The Committee may allow hearsay testimony. The Committee may exclude character evidence and evidence that is irrelevant or unduly repetitious. The Committee may limit both the number of witnesses and the time granted to each witness during the Hearing.

Failure to Appear. Failure of the grievant or the respondent to appear or phone in to the Hearing shall not prevent the Hearing from proceeding. The Committee may, however, decide to cancel the Hearing if the grievant or the respondent is not present.

Order of Presentation. The grievant shall proceed first, followed by the respondent, specifically as follows:

1.    Presentation by the student-athlete (grievant) - 20 minutes or less.

2.    Presentation by the coach (respondent) - 20 minutes or less.

3.    Rebuttal by the student-athlete (grievant) - 10 minutes or less.

4.    Rebuttal by the coach (respondent) - 10 minutes or less.

5.    Questions from the Committee to grievant and/or respondent - no time limit.

6.    Conclusion of hearing - grievant, respondent and witnesses excused.

7.    Deliberation and decision - no time limit.

 

Extension of Allotted Time. The Chair of the Committee shall have the exclusive authority and discretion to grant an extension of the time limits noted in the Order of Presentation.

Questioning. The grievant and the respondent shall have a reasonable opportunity to rebut opposing evidence. Committee members may question the grievant, the respondent, and witnesses.

Committee Deliberation and Decision. After the Hearing is concluded, the Chair of the Committee shall excuse the grievant and the respondent and all witnesses. The Committee shall then discuss the arguments, evidence and documentation presented during the Hearing. The Chair shall the poll the members of the Committee present at the Hearing by secret ballot on the question of whether to sustain the grievance. The decision of the Hearing Committee will be determined by a simple majority vote of the Hearing Committee members. In reaching a decision, the Hearing Committee should reach a reasonable conclusion, considering the interests of the institution and the student-athlete.

Remedies. The Hearing Committee may sustain the decision regarding contact or financial aid, modify the decision as requested by the student-athlete, or modify the decision in any other way, as long as it deems the result reasonable based on its consideration of the interests of the institution and the student-athlete. However, any remedy cannot constitute a violation of NCAA or Conference regulations, nor can any remedy cause any student-athletes, coaches, administrators, staff or the University to be in violation of NCAA or Conference regulations.

Report of the Decision. The Chair of the Committee shall prepare a written report of the decision of the Committee. This report shall be reviewed by the Committee members who participated in the Hearing. Members shall indicate their approval by signing the report. The Chair of the Committee shall promptly report the decision of the Committee to the grievant, the respondent, the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance and any other individual(s) designated by the grievant or respondent.

Finality of the Decision. The decision of the committee is final and may not be appealed to any other individual or entity at the University of Massachusetts, affiliated Conferences or the NCAA. The grievant may request the Chair to consider newly discovered information that existed at the time of the Hearing that would in reasonable probability change the Hearing Committee's decision. The decision as to whether the information represents newly discovered facts and whether it likely would have changed the decision of the Hearing Committee will be made by the Chair. The decision rendered by the Chair on this issue is final and may not be appealed.

V. IMPLEMENTATION
The process described in this policy is intended to provide fairness in the hearing of complaints in a manner similar to how the University handles grievances for all students generally and also to facilitate compliance with NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.3, 15.3.4 and 15.3.5. The University expects participants in the process to attempt in good faith to carefully follow the procedures described in this policy. Nonetheless, there may be circumstances when participants in the process unintentionally err while attempting in good faith to follow the procedures described in this policy. If such an error is promptly brought to the attention of the Chair of the Hearing Committee, the University will make reasonable efforts to correct the error, if practical.

 

 

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