Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa volleyball coach Bond Shymansky fired for giving student-athlete 'impermissible benefit'

UI now waits for NCAA investigation, possible penalties for school, coach

Iowa announced Wednesday it has fired head volleyball coach Bond Shymansky. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa announced Wednesday it has fired head volleyball coach Bond Shymansky. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has fired head volleyball coach Bond Shymansky for “providing an impermissible benefit” to get a player to come to Iowa, a major NCAA violation that has resulted in penalties for other college programs.

The UI announced Shymansky’s termination Wednesday afternoon at the end of an outside law firm investigation, during which Shymansky was on paid leave. The UI now has reported the violation to the NCAA and will cooperate with the process, Athletics Director Gary Barta said in a prepared statement.

“We take NCAA violations very seriously, and have acted in a fair and decisive manner,” he said. “We will continue to work with the NCAA in regard to our self-report to reach a conclusion in this matter as swiftly as possible.”

Vicki Brown, who was named interim head coach on May 20, will remain in that role for the 2019 season, Barta said.

Barta said Brown reached out to all the players and recruits immediately after being named interim head coach. Players found out she was going to remain interim head coach through this season earlier on Wednesday.

“(Brown) has been a head coach before,” Barta told The Gazette Wednesday night. “The student-athletes really like her and admire her and trust her.”

The UI will wait until after the season to decide whether to hire Brown or search for an outside candidate.

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“Right now we’re focused on just making sure these young women, they pull together,” Barta said. “They’re going to camp here pretty quickly, so we have to get going and get this season off and running.”

Shymansky, an Iowa City native and UI graduate, was hired as UI’s head coach in 2014, coming from Marquette University in Milwaukee. He led the Hawkeyes to a 78-82 record in five seasons, including 15-16 last season. Shymansky’s annual base salary was $215,000.

Barta announced Shymansky’s 30-day suspension May 20, saying a student-athlete had come forward May 1 to report the alleged violation. At the time, Barta called the breach “significant” and “serious” and said the violation was Level I or Level 2 on the four-tier NCAA structure.

The UI has not reported what Shymansky is accused of giving the former student-athlete, the value of the benefit or the source of the funds. Whether anyone else in UI Athletics knew of the impermissible benefits also likely will be critical to the NCAA investigation, which may take up to a year.

Barta said the NCAA did not give him a timetable of how long the investigation will take, but he said the UI gave the NCAA all results from the UI investigation. The UI investigation ended “quite a while ago,” Barta said.

Barta said the UI won’t comment further during the investigation at the NCAA’s request. The NCAA will release its findings upon conclusion of the probe, the UI said.

“Because the NCAA hasn’t done their investigation yet, they’ve asked us to not comment on the details yet,” Barta told The Gazette Wednesday night. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do that once their investigation is done.”

The UI certainly isn’t alone among Division I athletics programs to have major NCAA violations in recent years.

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The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions issued findings of major violations in 114 cases from January 2006 to December 2015, according to a 2016 analysis by Inside Higher Ed. More than half the institutions in the Power Five athletic conferences, which includes the Big Ten and Big 12, committed major violations during that period, Inside Higher Ed found.

The NCAA levied fines in 34 cases and barred schools from competition in 20 cases. Other possible penalties include scholarship reductions, reduced budgets and vacated wins.

The infractions committee decided last year to put Brigham Young University in Utah on a two-year probation after it was discovered four boosters provided more than $12,000 in complimentary vacations, cash, meals, golf and use of a car to a men’s basketball player. The penalty also includes recruiting restrictions, one lost scholarship, vacated wins and a $5,000 fine, according to an NCAA news release.

The NCAA also can penalize coaches even after they leave an institution — or are fired like Shymansky. A show-cause penalty is an administrative punishment that stays in effect for a specified period of time and could be transferred to any other NCAA-member school that hires the coach.

Shymansky’s UI contract, renewed in 2017, says he may challenge a termination before an arbitration panel. The UI did not report Wednesday whether he had requested such a review.

The Gazette’s John Steppe contributed to this report.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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