NCAA investigates IUP track-and-field program

A Civic Project story

Former IUP track-and-field All-American hurdler Madeleine L. “Maddy” Outman competes at the outdoor NCAA Championships, Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, N.C., May 29, 2010. Photo by Slippery Rock University head cross-country coach John Papa.

By The HawkEye Staff

INDIANA — On a sunny and mild Tuesday evening in mid-June 2011, Madeleine L. “Maddy” Outman stepped her spikes onto familiar turf at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s  George P. Miller Stadium to prepare for upcoming track-and-field meets in Oregon and Germany.

Outman, one of the university’s winningest athletes, a former team captain and a straight-A 2010 alumna of IUP’s two-year graduate sociology program, might have expected a welcome from the school that still touts her All-American record on its website.

Instead, someone in the Athletics Department called campus police.

Outman, 25, of Longmont, Colo., recounted the June 14, 2011, incident in a letter  [Outman Letter.pdf ] emailed Jan. 30 to IUP officials. And she confirmed the letter in telephone and email interviews from Atlanta, where she is an assistant track-and-field coach at NCAA Division III Emory University. Based on her account, here is her side of the story:

Outman said she had returned to Indiana in late spring 2011 to train with her track coach Ralph White60, who had been fired by IUP six months earlier. On that June 14, she and White gathered scrap hurdles from beneath the stadium stands. She set them out as she bantered with coaches for other IUP athletic programs who welcomed her.

In the distance, Outman spotted a familiar figure with the IUP track-and-field program as he emerged from the Memorial Field House entrance facing the stadium. The man re-entered the building.

Within minutes, campus police arrived in two cars, lights flashing, parked at a gate on the west side of the stadium and approached on foot, Outman recalled. One officer told her that police had received a call from someone at the university who said Outman could not use the scrap hurdles.

Outman, a hurdler, asked who had called. An officer referred her to Francis J. “Frank” Condino, IUP director of athletics; Rhonda H. Luckey, IUP vice president for student affairs, and Frances A. Nee, IUP associate athletic director, Outman recalled. None of them joined the officers outside on the track.

Outman was offended, she said, especially as other athletes — students and non-students alike — used the same equipment and facilities without being accosted.

“I took great offense,” she said. “I don’t like being bullied.”

She left. But before returning the next day, she sent a text message to assistant track-and-field coach Joseph L. “Joey” Zins, asking permission to use the facility and the scrap hurdles, Outman said. Yes, Zins responded.

The next day, June 15, she returned around midday. Again, campus police arrived. Again, they cited Condino, Luckey and Nee as their authority. But this time, an officer advised her to leave, Outman said.

“That was hurtful to me,” she said. “I was probably one of the most successful athletes IUP has ever had. They made me feel like I was trespassing.”

She wasn’t trespassing, according to police. In a March 14 interview in his University Towers office, IUP police Chief Samuel D. Clutter said the stadium track is open to all.

“It’s like the library,” Clutter said. “It’s public property.”

Clutter confirmed that campus police were dispatched to the stadium at 1:15 p.m. on June 15, the second day, in response to a complaint from IUP track-and-field coach Michelle A. Burgher about an “unwanted person” at the stadium.

The complaint documents that a police dispatcher phoned the Athletics Department to ask Condino or Nee to meet the officer at the track. A department secretary called back to advise that Condino and Nee “did NOT have time” to do so, according to the police document.

Clutter described the June 15 complaint as “insignificant.” He added that his department had no record of the alleged incident on the first day, June 14, which he said “also may have been that insignificant.”

To Outman, however, the incidents were significant — and personal. In a Feb. 28 phone interview, Outman said what prompted the call for police was “bad blood” between the IUP Athletics Department and White, her coach since Outman was an undergraduate at Williams College.

Jim Outman, Maddy’s father, described the situation in a June 15, 2011, email to IUP vice president Luckey:

In order to understand the dynamics of what happened on Tuesday, June 14, we need to identify the elephant on the track, so to speak: Ralph White, Maddy’s coach and mentor at Williams College, as well as at IUP. He is still her coach in her post-NCAA track career. The current IUP track head coach, Michelle Burgher (also a former protege of Ralph White) and her boyfriend (who actively coaches IUP athletes sans any formal affiliation with the school) have had issues with Ralph ever since her appointment to succeed him.

In a June 20 email provided by Outman, Luckey responded by citing university “protocol” that “members of the public may not use university property and equipment unsupervised by university personnel.”

In phone calls to Outman and her father, Luckey also denied authorizing police to oust Outman from the track, according to Outman.

White, a 1974 Penn State graduate who at the collegiate level has coached more than 350 All-Americans, more than three dozen national champions and 15 Olympians, has been described as one of the top track-and-field coaches in the nationIn January 2011 after three and a half years as IUP’s head track-and-field coach, the university fired him for alleged violations of NCAA rules governing student-athlete housing, he said. (The NCAA has made no public announcement of its investigation.)He resides in White Township, where he runs a property-management business.

White’s presence at Outman’s aborted practice sessions in June 2011 made her guilty by association, collateral damage in the dispute between White and IUP’s athletics department, White said in interviews.

On Jan. 30, after six months of reflection — and study of NCAA regulations that her new coaching position required — Outman responded to the June 2011 incidents at Miller Stadium. She emailed a detailed, single-spaced seven-page letter [Outman Letter.pdf ] to Luckey, Condino and Nee. In what reads like an indictment, Outman alleges violations of department and university policies, various laws and NCAA rules.

By mid-February, Luckey had phoned Outman to report that the university had forwarded her letter to the NCAA, as required by the association’s regulations, Outman said. By late February, a copy of Outman’s letter was provided to The HawkEyewhich began  investigating. In early March, an NCAA enforcement representative conducted an official interview of Outman about the allegations in her Jan. 30 letter, she said in a March 17 email.

Among the allegations in Outman’s letter [Outman Letter.pdf]:

  • Kurt Duncan, a Jamaican national, coach Burgher’s boyfriend, the father of her child and a constant presence in the department and on the track, was in the United States illegally on an expired visa.
  • In a June 4 email, Katie Tichacek Kaplan, a public affairs officer at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in New York City, said the agency could not comment on Duncan’s status because of privacy concerns.
  • Duncan and Burgher transported student-athletes in IUP vehicles and in their personal vehicles. Outman said she, too, received rides.
  • NCAA regulations prohibit coaches from transporting student-athletes, except during official recruiting visits.
  • Duncan routinely approached athletes at regional high school track meets in an attempt to recruit them for IUP’s track-and-field team.
  • NCAA regulations, Article 13.1.1, prohibit such contacts off-campus and without the presence of a guardian. Recruiting is defined in by the NCAA regulations as “any solicitation of a prospective student-athlete of the prospects relatives or guardian by an institutional staff member or booster for the purpose of securing the prospects enrollment and participation in any program.” Contact is defined by the NCAA regulations as “a face-to-face encounter between a prospective student-athlete of the institution and a member of the institution in excess of a friendly greeting.”
  • Outman’s allegations about recruiting could not be confirmed independently. Neither could Duncan’s position with the program, department or the university.
  • Clarion University Coach D.J. Bevevino, contacted in April, said he had not witnessed Duncan violating NCAA recruiting rules. However, it is not clear from a posted schedule how often Clarion competed against IUP. Attempts to verify the allegation with other high school and Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education track-and-field coaches in the region were not successful.
  • Duncan distributed free Mizuno athletic equipment to favored athletes during the 2008-2009 academic year.
  • Article 16.1 of  NCAA rules forbids athletes from accepting gifts of any kind from an agent or from anyone who wishes to provide services to the student-athlete.
  • Additionally, NCAA rules and regulations forbid a student from receiving preferential benefits or treatment because of the student-athletes “athletic reputation, skill or potential as a professional athlete.”
  • Burgher and Duncan “falsified” wind readings for long-jump results at the April 18, 2011, Ed Fry Invitational at Miller Stadium. The fabricated readings were submitted to the NCAA so that national qualifying marks could be posted for two IUP track-and-field athletes.

An IUP athlete prepares for a long jump during the Ed Fry Invitational track-and-field meet at IUP’s George P. Miller Stadium, April 18, 2011. No wind gauge is evident in the photo. According to former IUP track-and-field athlete Madeleine Outman, a gauge should be mounted a foot or two to one side of the runway with the official seated next to it to record wind readings for each jump. Outman alleged that readings for the event were fabricated and submitted to the NCAA by the IUP track-and-field program to qualify athletes for national competition. Photo submitted by Madeleine Outman.

  • IUP track-and-field athletes who attended the NCAA Division II NCAA Outdoor Championships hosted by California State University at Stanislaus on May 26-28, 2011, went to a bar and night club with Duncan and coaches from other universities. Members of the group became intoxicated and engaged in other inappropriate behavior detailed in Outman’s Jan. 30 letter [Outman Letter.pdf]. 
  • Ethical conduct of coaches at NCAA championship events is governed by a document called a Participant Manual, Outman said in a June 17 phone interview. Additionally, each participant in such events must sign a code of conduct.  The manual says: “A coach must … recognize, accept and teach to the team and the staff that their public behavior projects an image of the program and the university or college they represent. Therefore, behavior should be appropriate and honorable at all times.”

Outman’s allegations could not be independently verified. Beginning on April 5, phone calls were placed and email messages were sent to the following IUP officials and offices:  Luckey, the vice president of student affairs; Condino, the athletic director; Burgher, the track-and-field coach; Duncan, whose position could not be confirmed; Judith A. Gallo in the IUP Office of Human Resources, and Michelle S. Fryling, director of university public relations.

Luckey responded in an April 6 email that directed questions to Fryling.

Fryling in an April 23 phone interview, Condino in an April 9 email and Nee in a June 4 email declined comment because of an ongoing NCAA investigation. Coach Zins responded similarly in a May 14 email.

On June 4, a staff member of the IUP Office of Human Resources reported finding the name Kurt Maurice Duncan in university records. But the staffer said she could not elaborate of the person’s association with the university and referred questions to Gallo.

Gallo responded in a June 13 email in which she referred questions to the university’s Right to Know Law office. A request was submitted to the office the same day. The office responded June 19 that Duncan was not employed by the university and “has not received any compensation from IUP.”

Duncan did not respond to email and phone inquiries between April 12 and April 15. Neither Burgher nor Duncan was in the track-and-field office at midday on April 23 and April 26.  Burgher responded in a June 12 email that she was “unable to discuss an ongoing NCAA investigation.”

In a June 4 email, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security in New York City said she would not verify Duncan’s resident status, citing privacy concerns.

NCAA representatives did not return email and phone messages left on four occasions between April 5 and April 29. The messages requested comment on Outman’s allegations and the NCAA investigation of them, as confirmed by IUP officials.

A former Athletics Department staff member did respond to some of the allegations made in Outman’s Jan. 30 letter [Outman Letter.pdf]. Jennifer K. Bergey, 42, a secretary in the IUP Athletics Department from October 2004 to July 2010, worked in the football program. Twice she successfully completed a test of NCAA recruiting rules, which gave her a grasp of the encyclopedic intercollegiate athletics rulebook.

In March 23 and April 2 interviews in Davis Hall, where she is enrolled as a journalism student, Bergey said:

  • The Athletics Department in collaboration with Luckey kept an informal “blacklist” of IUP coaches who were out of favor with department administration. Former track-and-field coach Ralph White — Outman’s coach — was among the names on the list.
  • Car rides for student athletes, such as those alleged by Outman to have been provided by Duncan and Burgher, are strictly forbidden by NCAA rules.

“You cannot transport anybody else,” Bergey said. “It’s that touchy. No family. No family dog. No, no, no, no.”

  • Falsified results in an intercollegiate event, as alleged by Outman, would be a “huge” violation of NCAA and possibly of Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference rules, if confirmed.
  • Coaches’ assignments of homework assistance for academically struggling student athletes — as alleged and performed by Outman, according to her Jan. 30 letter — would be another “huge” violation of NCAA rules, if confirmed.
  • Bergey added that the special privilege suggested by this “extra benefit” allegation can be a gray area of NCAA rules. The key is that extra help provided to one student athlete must be provided to all student athletes in that program, she said.
  • Coaches socializing and drinking with student athletes at a bar, as alleged by Outman, would be “blatant leadership issues,” Bergey said. “This is a huge flag.”
  • Bergey contrasted the drinking allegation with the strict oversight of football players at away games, where 11 p.m. bed checks occurred nightly, watching pay-TV movies was prohibited, making long-distance calls on hotel room phones was prevented, roommates were arranged for each of the 60-plus athletes, and hotel employees were asked to monitor footballers’ movements — “to spy for us,” Bergey said.

As IUP officials awaited word from the NCAA about its investigation of Outman’s allegations, Outman was honored for the third time by NCAA head coaches as the South/Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year for her work at Emory. And she said she is helping younger athletes run in her footsteps.

“I coached my first All-Americans at the NCAA meet last month (8 All-American awards in total),” Outman wrote in a June 12 email.

–Chris Galiszewski, a senior, and Josh Carney, a sophomore, both majoring in journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, contributed reporting to this story. Galiszewski is from McMurray; Carney is from Natrona Heights.

–Editor David Loomis also contributed reporting.


Sidebar: IUP Athletics’ aspirations

In fall 2008, Indiana University of Pennsylvania administrators received a consultant’s report on then-President Tony Atwater’s plan to lead the university to the top tier of intercollegiate athletics — Division I of the NCAA.

But the school did not release the report and refused a request by The Indiana Gazette to make it public. Instead, the paper received a leaked copy and published its story (“IUP shelves Division I plans — for now”) on the front page of the March 21, 2009, edition.

The HawkEye also published a story.

According to the consultants, funding shortfalls stood in the way of Atwater’s aspirations and even risked the university’s Division II status.

“IUP must make some prudent investments in its current athletic program if it is to achieve and sustain a consistent presence in Division II,” the consultant’s report concluded.

IUP athletics director Francis J. “Frank” Condino said he had plans to address shortcomings.

“There is a long-term plan for athletic facilities,” said Condino. “The KCAC is one of those.”

But the $54 million 6.5-acre Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complexnow completed, directly benefits only a handful of the university’s 19 varsity programs, The HawkEye noted in 2009.

IUP’s remaining athletic programs would need the support of external boosters, including alumni, the athletics department website said in 2009. The then-two-year-old Crimson Hawks Athletic Association was created to tap that source of funding.

However, on June 10, a link to the association’s IUP webpage was inoperative.

Meanwhile, one alumna, standout former track-and-field athlete Madeleine L. “Maddy” Outman, has written a detailed critique of the program addressed to top university administrators. The Jan. 30 letter [Outman Letter.pdf] concluded:

“Unfortunately, I am less than proud now to be associated with the IUP track & field program, and would never consider making a donation to support such a dysfunctional program and athletic department.”

The HawkEye


Sidebar: How this story was reported

This story is based on allegations by former Indiana University of Pennsylvania track-and-field athlete Madeleine L. “Maddy” Outman in a Jan. 30 letter [Outman Letter.pdf] addressed to university administrators.

A copy of the letter was provided to The HawkEye a month later, on Feb. 29. Reporting began soon after.

Sourcesat IUP, the NCAA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and elsewhere were contacted about this story. Few would speak on the record. Most would not comment. A June 5 request for a copy of the IUP Athletics Department budget was denied by a university finance officer, for example. (A June 8 copy of the budget released June 11 [IUP Athletics Dept Budget.pdfshowed that the track and field program was less than a tenth the size of the football program in terms of spending.)

However, several IUP administrators confirmed that an NCAA investigation of the Outman allegations was under way. On March 12,an

NCAA representative reportedly interviewed Outman at length and in detail a week earlier.

The chief of IUP campus police verified the June 15, 2011, encounter at Memorial Field House track. So did former IUP track-and-field coach Ralph White, who witnessed it.

Jennifer K. Bergey, a former six-year employee of the IUP Athletics Department, now a student at IUP, verified broad outlines of some of Outman’s allegations. In addition, Bergey, who had been twice passed tests of her knowledge of NCAA rules, offered assessments of the seriousness of alleged rules violations.

The appearance of personal animus between Outman and her coach Ralph White, on one hand, and employees of the Athletics Department, on the other, is apparent in this story. However, despite refusals of those employees and of other IUP officials to address questions raised by Outman’s Jan. 30 letter [Outman Letter.pdf], The HawkEye, in consultation with Journalism Department faculty, decided to publish this story because:

  • the credibility of the primary sources of the allegations has not been questioned;
  • university officials acknowledge that an NCAA  investigation of the allegations has been under way since at least early March;
  • the allegations raise questions about the administration of one of the university’s most public and prominent programs, and
  • the department’s campus-police-corroborated public treatment of an honored scholar-athlete alumna may reflect on — and may adversely affect — the university’s public image.

The HawkEye invites readers and stakeholders to respond to this story. As always, The HawkEye invites readers to submit letters to the editor, comments to the story and other forms of correspondence for publication.

David Loomis, editor


Sidebar: For more info

For more information about this story, or to get involved in issues it raises, contact the following sources:

Dr. Francis J. Condino
Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
204D Kovalchick Complex
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pa. 15705
Phone: 724-357-2782

Dr. Rhonda H. Luckey
Student Affairs
213 Sutton Hall
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pa.  15705
Phone: 724 357-4040

Michelle Burgher
Track and Field program
Intercollegiate Athletics Department
Memorial Field House
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pa.  15705

Michelle Fryling
Office of University Relations
Sutton Hall 314
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Indiana, Pa.  15705
Phone: 724-357-2302

The National Collegiate Athletic Association
700 W. Washington St.
P.O. Box 6222
Indianapolis, Ind.  46206-6222
Phone: 317/917-6222

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