During the latter part of November 2007, three incidents involving Missouri State University (Missouri State) student-athletes were widely publicized. Only a small number of student-athletes were involved in the three incidents which occurred over a seven-month time-frame. However, the Missouri State community and the general public voiced concerns about the reputation of the Intercollegiate Athletics program at Missouri State and its longstanding tradition of operating a successful program at a high level of integrity. Faced with this challenge to Missouri State’s reputation in its athletics program, President Michael Nietzel formed a 10-person Special Review Panel to examine policies and practices regarding: standards of behavior of Missouri State student-athletes; established procedures for monitoring student-athlete conduct; policies governing the reaction of coaches and athletics administrators to different levels of legal involvement in which a student-athlete may become involved; and the process followed by coaches, athletics administrators and other Missouri State officials in responding to requests for public information about incidents involving student-athletes. From the very beginning of its response to the four-point charge, the panel acknowledged that the Missouri State Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has operated an excellent program with few blemishes to its record of success in athletics competition, academics in the classroom, conformance with conference as well as NCAA rules, and conduct of its student-athletes.
Beginning with an organizational meeting December 7, the panel met eight times. During the initial meeting, Dr. Nietzel briefed the panel regarding his charge and pledged the unfettered access to coaches, student-athletes, athletics administrators, and other Missouri State resources necessary for the panel to complete its work. In subsequent meetings, the panel met with and interviewed all head coaches, representatives of each sport team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and the Director of Athletics (AD). In these meetings, respondents addressed a number of questions designed to provide the panel with a base of information on which the four-point charge could be addressed. Between meetings, the panel reviewed pertinent written policies of Missouri State, each individual head coach, the NCAA, other universities within the Missouri Valley Conference, and other universities across the United States. The panel appreciated the full cooperation of all participants in providing information about policies and practices related to the four-point charge. The members of the panel were impressed with the quality of Missouri State’s student-athletes, the dedication of the head coaches in maintaining high standards of behavior among the student-athletes, and the administration of the athletics program in a manner that has brought honor as well as recognition to Missouri State.