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Ousted SIU athletic director Jarnigan hired compliance officer under show-cause order

CARBONDALE — Recently ousted SIU athletic director Liz Jarnigan hired a compliance director that was under a show-cause order in August, according to records obtained by The Southern Illinoisan.

A show-cause order is one of the harshest penalties one can receive from the NCAA.  

Alex Parker was SIU's associate athletic director in charge of compliance until being reassigned to the equipment department earlier this month. Parker is currently listed on the Saluki online staff directory as associate athletic director for special projects under the facilities department.

He was the associate athletic director for compliance at the University of Akron from 2014 to May 18, 2020, when he resigned following an interview with NCAA Committee on Enforcement staff. Parker admitted to giving loans between $100-$1,000 out of his personal bank account to nine Akron football players, totaling $5,900, during the 2014-15 and 2019-20 school years.

Four of those athletes competed in 21 games during the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2019-20 school years. Akron's football program received two years probation, a $5,000 fine, and had to vacate any wins, individual records and team records from games the four players competed in for what the committee called Level I violations, the highest level the NCAA has. 

Parker was given a two-year show-cause order from Aug. 19, 2021-Aug. 18, 2023, according to the NCAA Committee on Infractions report that was released Aug. 19.

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The show-cause order doesn't preclude anyone from hiring him, but it requires anyone who does to restrict his involvement with financial aid legislation, which is typically a big part of an NCAA compliance director's job, by requiring the department's senior leadership to directly oversee his administration and distribution of such aid.

It is not clear if Jarnigan went through the appropriate steps to hire Parker with the show-cause order, or if it had anything to do with Jarnigan being let go by SIU on Sept. 9.

Jacari Henderson is SIU's current director of compliance.

The Southern reached out to Jarnigan's attorney, Nick Esposito, Wednesday, but did not hear back. The Southern also did not hear back from Parker Wednesday after reaching out to him. 

Parker started at SIU on Aug. 26, according to a university spokesperson. Parker was not named as the associate athletic director for compliance in the NCAA Committee on Infractions report, but in his resignation letter to Akron on May 18, 2020, which was obtained by The Southern through the Freedom of Information Act, he identified himself as the associate athletic director of compliance.

The Southern Illinoisan obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act regarding Alex Parker's resignation from the University of Akron and the NCAA Committee on Infractions report released in August.

In the report, Parker said he had given the loans to the players because their scholarship money and/or Pell Grant distributions had been delayed. At prior institutions, he had contacted the schools' bursar offices to obtain cash advances on the athletes' student aid, but was told Akron did not have such a program, and the bursar office was unwilling to expedite the funds.  

Swim coach accusations

Meanwhile, the SIU Equity and Compliance Office has launched an investigation into allegations of emotional and sexual abuse by swimming and diving coach Geoff Hanson over the last two years, according to a story in the Daily Egyptian newspaper on Wednesday.

Two former athletes on the swimming and diving team, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, told the DE Hanson inappropriately commented on athletes' swimsuits in front of them, made sexual comments about team members' feminine hygiene, threatened to remove athletes' scholarships, went over the NCAA-mandated 20-hour week, and once touched an athlete's inner thigh in front of the team. 

Sources: SIU athletic director Liz Jarnigan let go

The report said multiple athletes from the team met with the SIU Equity and Compliance Office in October 2020, with Jarnigan in attendance. One of the athletes quoted in the story said parents of two team members notified SIU Chancellor Austin Lane about the abuse allegations in an email Sept. 7, two days before Jarnigan was dismissed.

Lane told the DE Sept. 7 was the first he heard of the allegations against Hanson, and that he couldn't say whether it led to Jarnigan's dismissal.

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The Southern asked SIU spokesperson Kim Rendfeld if Hanson was under any NCAA investigation, and if he was still the SIU swimming and diving coach. Rendfeld didn't answer either of those questions, but sent a statement from the university:

"We take all allegations seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation, following university policies and procedures," the statement read. "We will take action accordingly."

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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