Adras under fire before exit

2012-01-29T09:10:00Z 2012-01-29T10:38:42Z Adras under fire before exitJACOB MAY Sun Sports Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
January 29, 2012 9:10 am  • 

Former Northern Arizona men's basketball coach Mike Adras violated multiple NCAA and university regulations before he resigned in December, according to documents received by the Daily Sun.

An internal investigation also described a climate of "extreme fear" among players and assistant coaches if Adras were to learn they were cooperating with the probe.

Public records released by NAU documented the internal investigaton of Adras conducted last summer by athletic director Jim Fallis. Fallis concluded that Adras was responsible for multiple violations regarding basketball practice by the Lumberjacks, as players signed inaccurate time sheets to keep the permitted practice time within NCAA limits, according to the documents.

There are large portions of the released documents blacked out, including dates and names of parents sending e-mails to the NAU administration. NAU officials say the redactions are needed to comply with federal student privacy laws.

But the correspondence, which included Fallis, NAU President John Haeger and executive vice president MJ McMahon, details Adras' alleged transgressions.

Adras and Fallis failed to return messages seeking comment. None of the documents released appears to have been written by Adras.

PRACTICE LOGS INACCURATE

One parent described an instance involving the Lumberjacks recording 1 hour and 58 minutes on their practice log although the practice actually lasted 3 hours and 10 minutes.

"Players repeatedly provide their signatures on inaccurate or purposely misleading documentation that does not align with NCAA rules and regulations," the parent wrote. "Players are not pushing back on signing this paperwork due to the consequences they feel they may incur from the coaching staff."

In a letter sent from Fallis to Adras, the NAU athletic director admonished Adras for the violations.

"It is my belief that as head men's basketball coach you were aware of and involved in situations that involved athletically related activities that should have been countable under NCAA practice limitations but were not entered into appropriate practice logs," Fallis wrote. "Specifically, these activities involved selected student-athletes who were directed to participate in athletically related activities outside the team's regular practice schedule."

The men's basketball team also recorded inaccurate per diem expense sheets, which document funds issued to them to be used during traveling.

There was also an instance of a team booster attending a meal at Adras' house while recruits were present, which is an NCAA violation. Fallis then wrote that Adras directed one of his assistant coaches not to identify the booster in the official record of the event.

"There have been occasional meals at the Head Coaches (sic) house when prospective student athletes are there. While the meals are permissible under NCAA rules and the coaches, their families and the players can be there. It is not permissible to have boosters there," Fallis wrote. "There is documentation, turned in by the Head Coach, that fails to identify all the people in attendance, at least one being a booster, this a NCAA violation and it has been reported that the head coach directed an assistant coach not to identify all the attendees at the most recent such functions. This could be the most aggregress (sic) of NCAA violation, that when you know there has been a violation and not report it or try to hide it."

ENVIRONMENT OF FEAR

In his investigation, Fallis concludes that the players and the assistant coaches on the NAU men's basketball team work in an environment of threats and fear.

"The common theme is extreme fear by everyone I speak to and that is the fear that Mike Adras will find out that I spoke to them," Fallis wrote to Haeger updating him on the status of his investigation.

One parent described a son being pulled from study hall and then forced to run for an hour and half while teammates continued to study.

"(The players') plights appear to be systematically ignored and dismissed at every level," the parent wrote.

In a separate email, Fallis said he took care of that incident.

"I have told Mike to suspend the use of excessive running by players for the immediate future and we have agreed that the trainer will have the ability to stop ANY activity that may be detrimental to the health of the student athlete," Fallis wrote.

An unnamed observer went to a practice while Adras was coaching and made the following remarks, detailed in a log of a meeting that took place in McMahon's office.

"He was only there to observe and not pass judgment. (Name redacted) observed the coach to be very harsh and demeaning to the team. The coach was yelling and punishing the team which he perceived to be very abusive in nature. He would get frustrated and throw them out of drills and humiliated them on more than one occasion. ... (Redacted) thought maybe there were several allowances made to the players due to his presence."

ASSISTANT COACH TRIED TO HELP

The meeting log also detailed that at least one of the assistant coaches under Adras was trying to help the players and put his own job on the line.

"(P)arents receive the most feedback from Coach (redacted). They believe that he is the only person who has the best interest of the players at heart. The parents believe that Coach (redacted) is in a bad situation. He is knowledgeable of wrongdoings and tries to notify these cases to his superiors. Coach (redacted) has indicated that he receives no acknowledgment from Jim Fallis about grievances and concerns shared by parents and student athletes."

The documents, which were released to the Daily Sun after a formal request citing state open records laws, include a letter by Fallis to Haeger summarizing the actions he took based on his investigation of Adras. They included assigning a staff person to every practice to assure compliance with NCAA rules and plans to reduce practice times of the team and suspend Adras from some practices to make up for excess practice times in the past. Adras also was barred from hosting any meals attended by prospective players.

In the same letter, Fallis recommends that NAU hire an "outside firm" to review the violations before they are reported to the Big Sky Conference and NCAA. Fallis, characterized the violations as "minor" in an interview with the Daily Sun last month.

Adras resigned on Dec. 6 and received the remainder of his $120,000 annual salary and a letter of thanks from Haeger for his service to NAU.

Fallis was named last week one of four finalists for the job of athletic director at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

  1. Riocco
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    Riocco - February 02, 2012 6:42 pm

    Adras resigned on Dec. 6 and received the remainder of his $120,000 annual salary and a letter of thanks from Haeger for his service to NAU. enough said



  2. ubermiguel
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    ubermiguel - January 31, 2012 10:30 am
    @FreedomLuvr, If that's really what you think you need to check out NAUs track and field/cross country programs. NAU has a lot going for it outside of the basketball and football. Swing by one the many other sports home games/meets and see it for yourself. There's a lot to be proud of.
  3. MTJack
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    MTJack - January 30, 2012 1:44 pm
    FreedomLuvR- Agree with you that priorities/salaries regarding college sports are excessive. I don't agree with your assessment that because ASU/UofA athletes have a greater chance of going pro they deserve the athletic funds over NAU. That seems to imply the "athlete" trumps the "student" part. Criticize Lumberjacks win/loss records if you must but something's being done right @NAU. (following link re: APR) http://nau.edu/News/Articles/2011/05/NAU-athletics-receives-high-marks-from-NCAA/
  4. DanFrazier
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    DanFrazier - January 30, 2012 10:16 am
    Re: "Adras under fire before exit": I don't normally follow sports. But I was impressed with this story, even if it is mostly just a summary of released documents. Getting the documents released is an accomplishment in itself. I don't know anything about Adras except what is in this story. Sounds like the right decision to let him go. Adhering to rules about practice times seems important. There was a scathing article about the NCAA and college athletics in a recent issue of "The Atlantic."
  5. FreedomLuvR
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    FreedomLuvR - January 29, 2012 8:12 pm
    This exemplifies the perversion of college sports. The coach at a very 3rd tier program makes $120,000 a year. He loses that fat paycheck if his team doesn't win, so he abuses kids that have no hope of a pro career in order to keep his job. Let's quit wasting tax-payer dollars on 3rd-rate college athletics and put the money into academics. Let ASU and UofA produce pro athletes since they attract the proper talent.
  6. tarheel
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    tarheel - January 29, 2012 7:15 pm
    i graduated nau in 1991 have always been proud of the school and a supporter of the athletics. looks like my future contributions will be going strictly to academics and not!!!! athletics for the forseeable future
  7. Fromthemiddle
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    Fromthemiddle - January 29, 2012 3:30 pm
    No independent investigation? How does Fallis conduct an investigation of one of his employees while they were under his watch? Is Fallis culpable, how about the Prez? It's ultimately the responsibility of the AD to ensure institutional control is maintained.
  8. Jeff Nephew
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    Jeff Nephew - January 29, 2012 1:54 pm
    Shame on you for this hatchet job against a man who has given his heart and soul to NAU. I do not understand your reasons, nor your intentions, except to further butcher an already butchered attempt at journalism. To let a coach go is one thing, as this happens yearly at the colleges and universities across this once great country at every level, and sport, but to carry on with "facts" and comments so totally out of context is just unreasonable. Good luck finding a replacement of equal fortitude
  9. Motorhead
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    Motorhead - January 29, 2012 10:56 am
    I'll tell you what's "aggregress" -- Jim Fallis' spelling...
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