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University Integrity and Compliance Office

• Coach Ecarma scheduled his recruiting trips for UofL based on the location of his sons’
tennis tournaments.

On May 29, 2019, the UICO received a subsequent anonymous complaint from the University of
Louisville’s (University or UofL) compliance and ethics hotline alleging the following concerns
about Coach Ecarma:

• Coach Ecarma has not followed the administrative leave he was placed on by the
University’s Athletic Director.
• Coach Ecarma asked clerks to take personal items out of his office to his car.
• Coach Ecarma asked clerks to string his sons’ rackets without paying for the services or
equipment.

UICO and Employee Relations reviewed the subsequent allegations as part of their joint
investigation.

Review Process

Our review of the allegations included the following:

• Conducted 22 interviews.
• Reviewed Rex Ecarma’s personnel file and employment contract with ULAA.
• Reviewed emails and other related documentation, including injury reports.
• Reviewed relevant university policies and NCAA bylaws.
• Reviewed a manual prepared and provided by Rex Ecarma.
• Engaged with Audit Services, Athletics Compliance Office, Athletics Business Office,
and Sports Medicine.

Findings

Our investigation determined that:

1. Coach Ecarma disregarded the health and well-being of the student athletes. Coach
Ecarma pressured them to play through injuries, pressured and questioned the decisions
of the sports medicine trainers about the treatment and recovery of injured student
athletes, gave awards to the student athletes who were not on the injury list, required
them to play outdoors in temperatures near freezing, and disregarded their dietary needs
and restrictions.

2. Coach Ecarma made inappropriate comments that were discriminatory and biased based
on nationality, ethnicity, and gender.

3. Coach Ecarma mistreated student athletes and employees and engaged in unprofessional
conduct and bullying behavior while interacting with them. Coach Ecarma’s behavior
made the student athletes and employees fearful of retaliation if they reported their
concerns to him.

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

4. Coach Ecarma made the student athletes participate in team activities beyond the
maximum 4 hours per day and/or 20 hours per week, pressured the student athletes to
engage in team activities on their scheduled days off, and rescheduled practices without
giving 24-hour notice to the student athletes.

5. Coach Ecarma often withheld gear and equipment and the coaches of the Men’s Tennis
team were not transparent with prospective student athletes during the recruiting process
about the amount of gear and equipment the student athletes would receive each year.

6. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether Coach Ecarma took gear or other
items from the University for his personal use or his family’s personal use and did not
pay for them.

7. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether Coach Ecarma scheduled


University recruiting activities based primarily on the location of his sons’ tennis
tournaments.

8. There was insufficient evidence to support that Coach Ecarma was not complying with
the permissions provided by his sports administrator.

Below are the details of each finding:

1. Coach Ecarma disregarded the health and well-being of the student athletes. Coach
Ecarma pressured them to play through injuries, pressured and questioned the decisions
of the sports medicine trainers about the student athletes’ injuries, gave awards to the
student athletes who were not on the injury list, required them to play outdoors in
temperatures near freezing, and disregarded their dietary needs and restrictions. This
behavior does not align with the university’s standards of conduct and is contrary to
NCAA principle 2.2, The Principle of Student-Athlete Well-Being and NCAA bylaw
3.2.4.17 Independent Medical Care. We interviewed multiple individuals about these
allegations. Individuals interviewed reported the following actions were demonstrated by
Coach Ecarma:

• Thirteen individuals stated that Coach Ecarma pressured student athletes to play
through injuries. The student athletes reported that Coach Ecarma did not give
them a choice of whether to practice and/or play when injured. The student
athletes repeatedly stated that the coach would bully them and the athletic trainer
and the coach made the final decisions when it came to injuries. Multiple
individuals reported that the coach told the student athletes that he does not want
to hear the word injury and that the word does not exist to him. They said this
made them fearful of getting an injury and upsetting the coach. The following are
some of the comments that were made:

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

o The coach, “he was bullying me” and told me “no matter what you say,
you are going to play.” He told me “ ” and said he does
not see how it can get worse playing. “It hindered me the entire season.”
o “Yeah, he’s the worst about that. I played the entire career with injuries.”
o He made a student athlete play injury.
o Coach Ecarma “uses intimidating tactics” and “if you are injured, he treats
you like crap.”
o “Pretty sure his motto is if you can open your eyes and breathe you can
play.”
o The coach told a student athlete that he was done with him and his foot
and made him get a cortisone shot so he could play through an injury.
o I had to get a cortisone shot because I was playing injured and had two
losses and the coach was mad about this. “He pressured me to say yeah” to
getting the shot.
o Coach Ecarma would say, “He can get through this” and said “Steve [the
trainer] was not always happy with the decision.”
o Coach made me play while I was in pain. He told me “I don’t care, take
painkillers and play.” I took painkillers and played. I am still injured and
now I might need surgery.

We asked Coach Ecarma who makes the final decision of whether or not a student
athlete who is injured can participate in practices or games. He replied, “Sports
Medicine.” He said they give him a report that instructs the coach on what is best
for the athlete. The coach also said that he prepared a manual that includes a
sports medicine report and things that he has done to foster a climate of health and
help with the student athlete experience. We asked Coach Ecarma how often he
tells the student athletes, who are injured, that they have to participate in practices
or matches when it is against the recommendation of the trainer. He replied, “No”
to this question and said if that were the case he would receive a formal written
reprimand from the Director of Compliance and the Director of Sports Medicine.
He further stated that he has never received a call from them or a reprimand and
that this is the first he has heard of these questions.

We asked Coach Ecarma how often he has told a student athlete, who is injured
and requesting not to play, that it is just mental and that they need to play the
match. He replied, “I don’t recall any comment like that." We asked Coach
Ecarma how often he has witnessed a player get injured during a match and in a
lot of pain and he told the player to go ahead and play through the injury. He
replied, “I don’t recall any.” He explained in a tennis match, the player can
default the match at any time and it is the player’s decision if he feels like he
cannot go on. He said, “I would not recommend to any player who might further
hurt themselves to be out there. It is not worth a win or lose for me to have a
player further injure themselves.”

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

We asked Coach Ecarma if he told the players at the beginning of the year that the
word injury does not exist and that he does not want to hear them say that word.
He replied, “I don’t recall that.” He further stated that his rule is that the players
go to Sports Medicine every day until they are healthy. He spoke about the
physical demands of tennis as a sport compared to other sports because of its long
season, beginning in late August and post season ending in May. He also
commented about the sport of tennis not having the options of substitution that
other sports are allowed.

We asked Coach Ecarma about specific student athletes who were injured during
the season and what pressure he put on them to play through their injuries. He
denied putting any pressure on them. We asked him if he told an injured student
athlete, that he was going to play no matter what. He
said, “That would be up to the trainers, not to me.” We asked him again if he ever
made that comment to a student athlete, naming the specific student athlete. He
replied, “I don’t recall saying anything like that, but again that’s not my
jurisdiction. My jurisdiction is to play the players successfully that the trainers
have cleared.”

When asked about one specific student athlete, the coach stated the player “was
cleared to practice and compete by the sports medicine trainer. He practiced with
the team before the match and was even playing football after practice running
and jumping at full speed. We won that match handily.” He said this player, “at
any time during the match was allowed to "retire" and stop the match at any point
without the approval of the Head Coach.”
• Ten individuals stated that Coach Ecarma pressured the sports medicine athletic
trainers about the student athletes’ injuries and questioned their decisions
regarding treatment and recovery of student athletes. In particular, Coach Ecarma
focused this past season on the new trainer and during interviews we consistently
were told that the coach would often bully and pressure him. In response, the new
trainer reported feeling unable to go against the opinion of the coach. The
following are some of the comments that were made when asking if the coach
pressured the trainers to play an injured athlete against the advice of the trainer:

o “Rex has all the power and Aurelio (new trainer) can’t put you out of the
game. He can say they shouldn’t be playing and Rex makes the final
decision.”
o The trainer determines the injury and then goes to Coach Ecarma. The
new trainer “feels pressured to let coach make the injury call. He
diagnoses and treats but Rex was really able to manipulate him.”
o “Aurelio is bullied by Rex and he didn’t say anything.”
o “A lot of the time Rex takes over on the medical side and tries to put his
opinion across.”

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

We reviewed injury reports and related documentation prepared by the trainers


and reviewed the manual prepared by Coach Ecarma. Our review of the injury
reports and related documentation found that the trainers sometimes used words,
like “recommend” or “suggest” in the reports to the coach about the status of the
student athlete. We asked the head athletic trainer for the Men’s Tennis team
about this and he told us it was to give the Coach Ecarma more autonomy and
control with an injured student athlete and that this is different from how they
communicate with other team coaches.

We also reviewed a text that the new athletic trainer sent to the head athletic
trainer about a student athlete’s injury. The text stated, “He was able to finish the
match but in my opinion he should’ve been pulled.” We asked the season athletic
trainer about the student athlete’s injury, his text to the head athletic trainer, and
his communication with Coach Ecarma and the athlete. The new trainer told us
that he spoke with the coach on the sideline during the match and told him, “I
don’t know if this player can finish. He pressured me to allow him [the athlete] to
finish the match.” The seasonal trainer said that he told the coach the student
athlete could continue the match, but also talked with the athlete separately,
standing away from the coach, to let him know that he does not have to finish the
match. The seasonal trainer said, “It was hard to watch him play.”

When we asked Coach Ecarma about whether he put pressure on the athletic
trainers to do whatever it takes to release a student athlete to participate in
practice or a game. He denied putting any pressure on them and said, “That’s their
wheelhouse. That’s their expertise. …” and “I follow the script.”

• Eleven individuals confirmed that Coach Ecarma awarded student athletes who
were not on the injury list. Individuals stated this happened on one occasion
during the spring 2019 season. Student athletes who were not on the injury list
received an Adidas shirt. The award was named after the new sports medicine
trainer. The new sports medicine trainer reported that he was not comfortable with
the coach giving out this type of award and was concerned that it would
discourage student athletes from reporting injuries.
We asked Coach Ecarma if he established an award this season and gave the
awards to the student athletes who were not on the injury list. Coach Ecarma
responded that the award was to show support for Aurelio because it was his first
job, his first team, and the coach felt as if the players were taking him for granted.
He said it was also to award a couple of the guys who were faithfully going to the
sports medicine trainers and getting themselves healed. He said, “I gave them a
shirt for just saying hey these guys are doing the right thing.”

• Fourteen individuals stated that Coach Ecarma made student athletes participate
in mandatory outdoor practices Tuesday through Thursday, March 5 through
March 7 of spring 2019 when temperatures were near freezing. Individuals
reported that the outdoor practices were to prepare them for an upcoming outdoor

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

competition that weekend against Notre Dame when the temperature was
projected to be above 50°F.

We confirmed through weather.gov the temperature was a high of 32°F on March


5, a high of 35°F on March 6, and a high of 38°F on March 7. We also confirmed
the temperature on March 10, the day of the competition, was a high of 62°F. The
Intercollegiate Tennis Association rule is that matches shall be played outdoors
unless the projected weather forecast (by weather.com) is for a minimum of two
hours out of three- hour time period a high of less than 50°F or sustained winds of
more than 20 miles per hour. There is no rule against practicing in temperatures
below 50°F.

We asked Coach Ecarma how often he requires student athletes to practice


outdoors when the temperature is below 50°F. Coach Ecarma responded that
March 1 is the starting date for most collegiate sports for outdoors practices. He
said that some of their most important matches are outdoors, so they try to get
ready for those by practicing outdoors. He said during this time they were
practicing outdoors to get ready for the Notre Dame outdoors match. He also
commented that several other collegiate sports are outdoors practicing at this time,
listing baseball, softball, track and field, lacrosse, and golf.

• Coach Ecarma disregarded the dietary needs and restrictions of the student
athletes by not giving them enough time to eat between classes and practices
during the week, by withholding food from them for several hours after an away
match, and by not being considerate of their dietary restrictions.

o Seven individuals stated that Coach Ecarma does not give the student
athletes enough time to eat during the week after class and before tennis
practice. When speaking with student athletes, they said their last class
ends around 12:15 pm and they are to be at practice by 12:30 pm. They
said that they are penalized if they arrive after 12:35 pm. After practice,
they go to the weight room for fitness. It was reported that they eat
breakfast at 8 am and are not eating again until after 3 pm. The student
athletes said they have mentioned this to the coach many times, but they
feel he does not care and he told them to pack a sandwich and eat it on the
way.

We asked Coach Ecarma if concerns were reported to him about practice


times and the student athletes not having enough time to eat lunch between
class and practice and we asked him if he required them to be at practice at
12:30 pm for a 1 pm practice. We also asked him if they were penalized
for showing up after 12:35 pm. The coach replied, “Our nutritionist has
instructed them to pack nutritional snacks in their backpacks daily so they
can eat throughout the day thus preventing mid-day hunger. I arrive on the
court to start official practice at 1 p.m. I realize that a player can have
class until 12:15 p.m. and I purposely gave them latitude to arrive when

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they can and warm-up sometime before 1 p.m. At times, even when they
come after 1 p.m., one of the coaches will warm them up and they can
participate in the drills of the official practice when they are ready to,
which can be 1:30 or 1:45 p.m. I do not punish them. I respect that each
athlete has a full schedule academically and athletically and I want to
accommodate them to be successful in their 4 years with me.”

o Eight individuals reported that the coach withheld food from the student
athletes after an away match against Notre Dame. We confirmed that the
student athletes were on a road trip home in March 2018 from South Bend,
Indiana to Louisville, Kentucky after a match against Notre Dame. They
said the coach was upset with the team because they lost the match. They
said they were starving after the game, but were afraid to say anything to
him about stopping for food. They said that he ate snacks in the vehicle in
front of them.

We asked Coach Ecarma if he made the student athletes wait several


hours, during a road trip home from a Notre Dame match, before stopping
to get them food. He replied, “I don’t remember that because it is four and
half hours to get from South Bend to Louisville. So I don’t recall making
anybody wait three and a half hours to four hours. I would be famished.”

o Eight individuals stated that Coach Ecarma selected restaurants and food
choices based on his preferences and gave no regard to the student
athletes’ dietary restrictions. We confirmed with individuals that some of
the student athletes have dietary restrictions, such as no gluten free or a
kosher diet. Individuals we spoke with identified multiple occasions when
the coach disregarded the dietary restrictions of the student athletes.
Individuals also reported that the coach takes the student athletes to fast
food places that have limited healthy choices and mainly fried food
options. Some of the student athletes reported that Coach Ecarma is only
concerned about where he wants to eat.

We asked Coach Ecarma what knowledge he has about some of his


student athletes having specific dietary needs or dietary restrictions. He
replied, “I never had it in 28 seasons, but I think one of the players is, uh,
gluten free and another player is kosher.” He said, “I’m not an expert.” He
mentioned that they have a nutritionist, Becky Lindburgh who talks with
the players weekly about their diet and gives them instructions on how to
meet their dietary needs. We asked the coach if he has ever been
insensitive and disrespectful to the student athlete’s about their dietary
needs. He replied, “One, I wouldn’t even know how to be disrespectful to
that and two the answer is no.”

2. Coach Ecarma made inappropriate comments that were discriminatory and biased based
on nationality, ethnicity, and gender. This behavior does not align with the university’s

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standards of conduct and commitment to being culturally diverse and inclusive of all
individuals and is contrary to NCAA principle 2.6, The Principle of Nondiscrimination.
Additionally, this type of behavior could lead to a violation of the university’s policy on
discriminatory harassment. We interviewed multiple individuals about this allegation.
The following are some of the comments that were made:

• “He makes jokes about ethnicity. He makes jokes about where the players are
born.”
• The coach would say “Aurelio, he should get a burrito” or “his family might be
here,” while passing by a Mexican restaurant.
• The coach would make comments about Aurelio liking to eat at Mexican
restaurants and says if it were up to Aurelio, we would just eat burritos all the
time.
• “When we drive by a burrito place
[the coach makes jokes].” He makes the same jokes with Aurelio.
• The coach asked servants are going to do it for him [in
context putting his bags on the scale at the airport].
• The coach asked a player, “How many Indians are going to walk in this
building?”
• The coach would joke around. He said one time “whites are better than black
people.”
• The coach would say, “Because ‘You’re soft.’”
• Coach Ecarma says people are soft and he makes these jokes in their
presence. “He has no problem saying things in front of them.”
• He talks about England and Muslims taking over.
• Coach Ecarma makes fun of foreign people, if they are not able to speak clear
English. This happened to me last year.
• The coach said, “I don’t watch women’s tennis, they’re terrible.”
• The coach told us “Don’t be a girl.”
• “In his mind women are under him.”
• The coach told me we really wanted to hire a boy for this position, but your
resume was 10 times better than the others.
• The coach says, “We don’t go to Panera Bread, only girls eat there.”

We asked Coach Ecarma what knowledge he has about individuals in the Men’s Tennis
program making discriminatory comments about race, ethnicity, nationality, or gender.
He replied, “I don’t have knowledge, but I do want to say on record I am a minority. I am
an immigrant. I have recruited and graduated players from over 25 countries and 25
cultures and I have tremendous respect, not only respect, but appreciation for all
nationalities and cultures.” We asked Coach Ecarma if he ever made discriminatory
comments about race, ethnicity, nationality, or gender. He replied, “No, I have not.”

Coach Ecarma was asked if he made the following alleged discriminatory comments
about specific individuals:

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• During a tennis clinic at the tennis center did you ask a student athlete “How
many Indians are going to come through here?” He replied, “I don’t recall saying
that.” Additionally, he said, “I have respect for all races.”

• Have you ever made a comment about Aurelio Puga or to him directly (who is
Hispanic), that you bet he would like to get a burrito from there (there being a
Mexican restaurant), while in a vehicle passing by that Mexican restaurant? He
replied, “Well, I don’t recall saying anything like that. I respect Aurelio.”
Additionally, he said, “You know, we as a team, have eaten at Hispanic
restaurants before, but I don’t recall saying that before or being derogatory to
someone I respect.”

• Have you ever commented to the student athletes and in front of Aurelio, “if it
were up to Aurelio, we would just eat at Mexican restaurants or just eat burritos
all the time?” He replied, “I don’t recall that… I don’t think liking Hispanic food
is a bad thing. I think many people like Hispanic food. I know I love Hispanic
food.”

• Have you ever made similar comments to or about ? He replied,


“No, I don’t recall any comment like that.”

• Have you ever referred to student athletes from and said


the “ He replied, “ is one of my players’ Instagram
name.” Additionally, he said, “They often refer to each other as the .”
He said, “I call them by their name, but they call each other ”
Regarding calling the coach replied, “Well, I don’t recall that.

• Have you ever commented about Muslims to a student athlete or others, saying
we cannot let them take over? He replied, “Again, I mean, I don’t recall that. Our
team is multi-ethnic and they’re young men growing into the world.”
• Have you made harassing comments to and
about their ability to speak English? He replied, “Harassmant is a terrible thing to
do and is not a part of my professional and personal philosophy. I have recruited,
coached and graduated players from 32 different countries over the course of my
29 year career. My team has been represented by players that spoke different
languages and came from diverse cultures.”

it is expected that this person communicated clearly to his


teammates and coaches because with this privilege comes the responsibility of
more meetings, understanding and conversations with people involved in the

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

program. speaks fluently which I consider amazing. He is


intelligent and speaks English very well. He can weave in and out of multiple
languages seamlessly. he would need to speak in front of his
teammates regularly thus the need to know English well which he has mastered”

Specific to the coach replied,


We had no problem communicating with him during the entire
recruiting process. The NCAA and UofL has comprehensive and detailed
requirements for eligibility. A player needs a good understanding of English just
to get the proper documents to the right people in the right way at the right time.
This interaction of the eligibility process can last 2-3 months. fulfilled all
the requirements and was eligible. He not only did well academically in this first
semester, he was . My academic
counselor and I were so proud of his continual improvement in English but how
he acclimated to his new surroundings and very high standards. I even chose him
to represent his teammates
and he could express himself clearly.”

• Have you ever told a female staff member that you would have preferred to hire a
male for her position? He replied, “Never.”
3. Coach Ecarma mistreated student athletes and employees and engaged in bullying
behavior while interacting with them. This behavior does not align with the university’s
standards of conduct and is contrary to NCAA principle 2.2, The Principle of Student-
Athlete Well-Being and bylaw 10.1 Unethical Conduct. We interviewed multiple
individuals about the coach’s treatment and behavior toward student athletes and
employees.

• Twelve individuals confirmed that Coach Ecarma has called the student athletes
inappropriate and derogatory names. The following are some of the comments
made:

o The coach told the players at the bleachers that practice was a “p*ssyf*st”
and “You guys didn’t take your tampons out. You’re a bunch of b*tch*s.”
o The coach was mad at us and he called us “p*ss**s” and told us to “take
our tampons out.” He suspended a player because he wasn’t giving a 100
percent at practice and called him a “m*th*rf*ck*r.”
o lost and coach said, “I’m not playing this
n.”

We asked Coach Ecarma if has ever called the student athletes an inappropriate
derogatory name. We specifically asked him if he called the student athletes
p*ss**s. He replied, “I don’t recall.” He further commented, “That’s not the type
of language that I use, but I don’t recall saying that to any player.” We asked the
coach if he told them to take out their tampons. He replied, “No. I don’t recall any
type of statement like that directed to any one of my 12 players.” We asked the
coach if he referred to a student athlete as a m*th*rf*ck*r in front of other student
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athletes following the outdoor practice the week before the Notre Dame match in
March 2019. Coach Ecarma replied, “I can’t recall at this point. I will have to
look through my notes if I had any altercations with a player and describing them
in that manner.” We sent this question as a follow-up item to Coach Ecarma and
he responded, “That is not the language that I use because I believe players and
coaches should communicate properly with each other.” He also stated, “I do not
remember saying those words.” He mentioned that they practice 5 to 6 times per
week, approximately 175 practices and “This is the first time since 1983 that I
have been on campus as a player or coach that I have been accused of using a
curse word. I believe that profanity is not needed to convey a teaching point or
message.”

We asked Coach Ecarma if he referred to as sh*t in public at an


away match against Georgia Tech. He replied, “I don’t recall saying that. That
was a bitter loss for us since that basically ended our hope for the NCAA
tournament.” The interviewers were provided a video of the ending of the Georgia
Tech match that showed an individual alleged to be Coach Ecarma throwing his
hat on the ground and kicking it.

We spoke with Coach Ecarma’s supervisor, the sports administrator, about his
knowledge of the coach calling the players inappropriate names. He replied,
“Only instance I’m aware of is we got an anonymous email about them playing in
cold weather. The email said he referred to them as p*ss**s.” He said that he
spoke to Coach Ecarma about the language and he admitted it. The sports
administrator told the coach that the language is unacceptable and that he should
apologize.

• Nine individuals stated that Coach Ecarma repeatedly asked the student athletes to
practice and /or perform drills with one of his sons. During interviews, the student
athletes told us that they did not feel like they had a choice when asked because it
was the coach’s son. One student athlete even reported that some of them would
receive extra gear if they practiced with his son. One individual reported to us that
the coach made a student athlete, who was sick, practice with his son and told him
it would not count as an official practice. It was also reported to us that the coach
made an injured student athlete practice with his son and told him it would not
count as an official practice.

We asked Coach Ecarma if he has ever told a student athlete that he has to hit or
unofficially practice with his son, . He replied, “No.” We asked Coach
Ecarma how often do the student athletes hit or practice with his son, . He
replied, “Rarely.” He said, “My son is a nationally ranked player and a couple of
them have asked maybe on one occasion to because the other players were
busy…” and “I said it was up to if he wants to hit.”

• Thirteen individuals stated Coach Ecarma treated them (including student


athletes, his staff, volunteer staff, and the assistant trainer) as his personal

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assistants by asking them to carry his personal luggage when the team was
traveling. The individuals reported that it was not the fact he made them carry his
luggage, it was the way he told them, in a condescending manner and tone. They
said it did not matter if his luggage was on the top of the stack or the bottom of
the stack; he still made them carry it for him. It was also stated that the coach did
not help with carrying other items for the team and relied on the team to carry
other items, such as equipment.

Individuals stated carrying his luggage was just one of the things that Coach
Ecarma did and that he repeatedly picked on random student athletes each season
by making jokes about their appearances and humiliating them in front of the
other student athletes. One said, he repeatedly picked on a student athlete about
his hair being messy. It was reported that it was not the fact that the coach
commented about the student athlete’s hair being messy, it was the way he
repeatedly brought it up multiple times to the student athlete and in front of the
other student athletes. Individuals reported additional examples of the coach’s
treatment of student athletes. They said the coach made comments to student
athletes about their weight in front of the other student athletes. It was stated that
he told one student athlete not to eat an entire city and he called another one fat.
He made a student athlete get up from his chair during a meeting, so he could sit a
laptop in the chair. The student athlete sat on the floor, while the other student
athletes all had chairs.

We asked Coach Ecarma who carries his luggage for him when he is traveling for
an away game and has to go to the airport. He replied, “Me, but occasionally me
and the assistant will go to the person, the group check in person, and our luggage
… we just say hey guys, can somebody grab our stuff.” He also replied, “Usually,
I’m the first person on the bus.” He said because of this his luggage is at the
bottom of the stack and everyone else will stack their luggage on top of his. We
asked Coach Ecarma if he asks or tells them, the trainer or student athletes, to
carry his luggage. He replied, “I don’t recall unless I have a big box …. or unless
both my hands are filled…” The coach explained that the equipment manager
does not travel with the team, but will send equipment and supplies with them and
the team will have to take turns carrying these items.

We asked Coach Ecarma if he made a comment to a student athlete about his hair
being messy. We provided Coach Ecarma with the name of the student athlete. He
responded, “When we travel by plane it is expected that all players on the team
wear a certain travel attire and present themselves and act in a way that would
bring honor and respect to representatives of the men's tennis program and
university. We strive to show that we represent ourselves in a first class way. I
have allowed many different type of hairstyles in many lengths on my team with
many different colors and fades. I feel that when we travel especially through
airports we need to have the mindset that this is a business trip and one should
comb their hair before they start this business trip where we are representing
UofL.”

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

• Ten individuals stated that they were afraid to report concerns to Coach Ecarma
or to report concerns about him because of the fear that he would retaliate against
them. The following are some of the comments that were made to us during the
interviews:

o “I did not go straight to Ecarma because I was afraid of him decreasing my


playing time and/or scholarship at the time.”
o “I voice my opinion, but don’t feel comfortable arguing with him or
having a strong opinion against him.”
o “I’ve brought concerns to Rex and he acts like the concerns are not really
concerns.”
o “No chance. Coach would be the last person I would call.”

We asked Coach Ecarma about the environment in the Men’s Tennis program and
if it is an environment that makes the student athletes and employees feel like they
would be retaliated against for reporting concerns to him. Coach Ecarma replied,
“Absolutely not. I’m the coach that recruited almost all of them.” He said that he
is accessible before and after practice, has them over to his house, he brings his
family around them, and tries to foster a family type of relationship. He further
stated, “If they had any issue, if there was any type of confusion in anything I did
or said, not only would they not be retaliated, I would want to know.” He said that
if he did something wrong, he would want somebody to tell him.
As part of his closing statement, he said he wanted to work on communication
with the players and stated, “There will be no retaliation because of this
suspension. I will take this team, just like I do any other team, with a fresh slate.”
In a follow-up question, we asked Coach Ecarma if he told university employees
that he believes his assistant coach is the ringleader and the reason for the internal
administrative review. He did not answer the question, but responded to it by
stating, “The reason for the internal administrative review is because a decision of
a new Athletic Director to send the completely Athletics-related complaint to a
department outside of Athletics.” He further commented that the Athletics
department should have handled the complaint internally.

• Staff reported that Coach Ecarma requested employees to perform duties for his
or his son’s benefit and that employees felt they could not refuse his requests.
Two employees stated that Coach Ecarma asked a clerk to move gear from his
office to his vehicle on one occasion and asked the same clerk to string his sons’
rackets. We confirmed this information through our interviews that Coach Ecarma
had an employee take UofL gear from his office to his vehicle. We asked what
type of gear. We were told shirts, sweatshirts, socks, hats, and shorts. It was also
reported that on March 27, 2019 and May 2, 2019, the coach asked the employee
to string rackets for at least one of his sons and he did not pay for the service.
When interviewed, the employee confirmed he was asked by the coach and strung
rackets for the coach’s sons about 20 times this season.

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

We asked Coach Ecarma if he has ever taken university gear or equipment for his
personal use or his family’s personal use. Coach Ecarma commented that he has
an Adidas credit card that he can get whatever he wants for anyone. He further
stated, “I am going to have to recall on that equipment one …” We asked Coach
Ecarma if he has asked anyone at the tennis center to string a racket for one of his
sons and whether he personally paid for it. He replied, “Well, I’m going to have to
get back with you on that one as well. I’m going to have to talk to my son.” We
sent these questions as follow-up items to Coach Ecarma. He responded to the
follow-up items. He replied, “I have not taken gear or equipment for non-work
use.” In response to if he has he asked anyone at the tennis center to string a
racket for one of his sons and whether he personally paid for it, he replied, “My
son knows how to string his racquets and does all of his racquets.”

4. Coach Ecarma made the student athletes participate in team activities beyond the
maximum 4 hours per day and/or 20 hours per week, pressured the student athletes to
engage in team activities on their scheduled days off, and rescheduled practices without
giving 24-hour notice to the student athletes. These actions are potential violations of
NCAA bylaws 17.1.7 Time Limits for Athletically Related Activities and 17.1.8 Student
Athlete Time Management Plan.

• We confirmed through our interviews that some student athletes are required to
attend 8 am ‘bird’ practices that last until approximately 8:50 am. These practices
are in addition to the 12:30 – 3 pm practices and the 3 to 4 pm weight training
sessions held on Tuesdays through Thursdays. This is in excess of the maximum 4
hours per day NCAA rule.

• We confirmed through our interviews that the coach would instruct the captains to
have practices in addition to the standard practices. It was reported that the coach
attended these practices and would watch and yell from the sidelines. It was also
reported that these practices were supposed to be optional, but the coach would be
mad at the student athletes if they did not attend them. These practices were
potentially in excess of the 20 hours a week maximum.

• We confirmed through our interviews that the coach repeatedly made the student
athletes practice or participate in athletic related events on their days off. One
individual reported that the coach told him that he “realizes it is his day off, but he
knows how much he loves to practice and that he can go ahead and practice and
they would still count that day as one of the student athlete’s days off.” Another
individual reported that the coach made a student athlete participate in team
picture media day on his day off. Another individual reported hearing the coach
say that he does not care about whether a student athlete has to participate on
team picture day on one of their additional days off. It was also reported that he
told the assistant coach that he was going to have team meetings on NCAA
required days off and that he is fine with getting a violation if someone finds out.

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

• We confirmed through our interviews that the coach changed practices without
giving the student athletes and assistant coaches 24-hour notice. They are
supposed to get 24-hour notice for practice changes and 8-hour notice for some
changes. Multiple individuals reported that the coach would have random Sunday
practices that were scheduled for the mornings and then he would change them to
evening hours not considering the students schedules. Individuals also reported
that the coach scheduled optional hit practices at 10 am and would change the
practice to mandatory 30 minutes before the practice. The student athletes said
they would receive a text at 9:30 am stating that the optional hit is now
mandatory. Additionally, multiple individuals complained about the coach
repeatedly including all of them on an 8 am ‘bird’ practice schedule knowing not
all of them would be attending it. It was reported to us that you cannot add
individuals to the practice schedule within 24 hours per NCAA rule, but you can
remove individuals from the schedule. However, this should not be a routine
approach to scheduling practice.

The student athletes said the coach abused this rule by adding all of them to the
schedule and then the evening before letting them know who is required to attend
the 8 am practice. The student athletes said this made it hard for them to plan for
the next morning for school and other activities. One student athlete said, “so you
never knew what your morning schedule would be like throughout the week.” We
spoke with the assistant and volunteer coaches about the scheduling of the 8 am
‘bird’ practices. They both confirmed this information. It was reported to us that
this occurs because the coach does not communicate with the assistant coach
timely about who is to attend the practices.

• We spoke with a former volunteer coach who reported that the reason he left the
program was primarily because of the issues with time management, the
scheduling of practices, and the treatment of players. When we asked him about
the time management plan and whether the head coach followed it, he replied,
“There is a [time management] plan. Is it followed? Not all of the time. Maybe 60
percent of the time.” He further commented that the coach would repeatedly
change practices based on his own agenda without regard for the other coaches
and student athletes. He said the weekend practices were the ones he changed the
most and that it was difficult to make any plans.

• We asked Coach Ecarma about his knowledge of the time management plan for
scheduling or making changes to the practices. He replied, “You know, my
assistant and it is demarcated in a sheet in that manual. It is. He is responsible for
inputting all of the hours of our practices, individuals, individual practices, and
weight training practices in a program called TeamWorks.” He said, “When you
input into that program, it goes directly to compliance. Compliance looks it over
and makes sure the time is within the NCAA limitations.” Additionally, he said,
“They monitor it daily. Then they move that to one or two team representatives to
say did this time actually happen. Then they check it off. So if there was a day
where, let’s just project that we went 25 minutes over. I would get a call from

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

compliance the next day and say hey coach, I don’t know if you were looking at
your watch, but you went 25 over. I’ve never, since we’ve had the time
management plan, which is two or three years old, I’ve never gotten a call that
said we went over by even a minute. But, the maximum that you could train
players is four hours a day. To me that is more than enough. Most of my training
days are two to two and a half hours. I really don’t stretch them to four. The only
time I would stretch them anywhere close to our limitations is 3 hours and 30
minutes or something like that if my #11 or 12 player needs some extra reps to try
to get himself into the line-up. I would not stretch out the guys that I’m playing
that are in the starting line-up. Four hours are just more than enough.”

• Coach Ecarma was asked how much notice he gives to the student athletes and
assistant coaches when practices are canceled or rescheduled. He replied, “We
deviated one time in four years and it was in mid-March when we I was approved
by compliance to push a practice back due to weather related conditions. I think
this maybe, like a reason or concern, because I don’t deviate much and it was
Friday. We played, I think Notre Dame outdoors on Sunday and it had rained in
the morning. The courts, when we started practice was still wet and it was a really
overcast day and they were not drying. I said guys, they got a text, and that was
the one time in four years that I had changed a practice like that, but you’re
allowed by the NCAA rules if it is weather related.” Coach Ecarma could not
recall what time he rescheduled practice for on Friday.

• We asked Coach Ecarma what knowledge he has about his staff submitting
practice schedules the night before an 8 am practice and including all of the
student athletes on the schedule knowing some of the athletes will not have to
participate in the practice? He replied, “Again, Jakob has his own system with
TeamWorks. I don’t know the system with TeamWorks. In defense of Jakob, he
probably put down all of the players that could theoretically do an 8 am on a
Wednesday morning if they didn’t have class. Then on a Tuesday after practice
we will talk to each player. Hey are you good for Wednesday morning? One
player goes yes coach, look forward to it. Another player say no coach, I need
rest. Third player say coach I’ve got a final exam. Then from that conversation
that we have at the end of practice the day before. We decide from that list who
we would expect for that Wednesday morning.” Additionally, he commented,
“There’s times we didn’t even have practice at all. We say nobody come. We’re
just going to chill out and have the morning off and rarely has that entire list ever
came. It’s always a fraction of that list depending on where their at physically and
academically.”

• We asked Coach Ecarma if he has ever told a student athlete to go ahead and
practice on one of their days off, but it will still be counted as a day off. He
replied, “Never.”

• Additionally, we spoke with the associate athletic director of the Athletics


Compliance Office to discuss the allegations reported to us about the student

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

athlete’s practice schedules and time management. We asked the director about
the time management plan policy, what it covers, how it is communicated to the
Men’s Tennis coaches, staff, and student athletes, the Athletics Compliance
Office’s process for monitoring it, and the status of their annual review. The
associate athletic director provided us with a copy of the policy and confirmed
that the Athletics Compliance Office staff educates the coaches, staff, and student
athletes about the policy at the beginning of each season. The policy addresses the
notice requirements for scheduling required athletically related activities (RARA),
the notice requirements for modifications to RARA, the types of circumstances,
including weather related issues that can permissibly deviate from the normal
scheduling policy, and the annual end-of-year review. The coaches, staff, student
athletes, and sports administrator are required to review and sign the policy. At
the end of the year, the Athletics Compliance Office conducts an annual review of
the policy and reports their findings to the University’s president. The associate
athletic director explained the annual review for Men’s Tennis is currently on
hold pending the results of our review and findings.

We asked the associate athletic director how often the office reviews the teams
practice logs submitted to them. The associate athletic director said they do a
monthly monitoring report, at a minimum, which includes reviewing the
countable athletically related activities logs. The director further commented that
they stress to the coaches that the logs are supposed to be submitted weekly to
them, but this is something that has not been fully complied with by select sports.
The associate athletic director confirmed upon receipt of issuance of our findings
the Athletics Compliance Office will continue their annual review of the time
management plan and assess any violations by the Men’s Tennis team.

5. Coach Ecarma often withheld gear and equipment and the coaches of the Men’s Tennis
team were not transparent with prospective student athletes during the recruiting process
about the amount of gear and equipment they would receive each year. We interviewed
multiple individuals about the amount of gear and equipment distributed to the student
athletes.

• Thirteen individuals confirmed the concerns related to the lack of gear and/or
equipment provided to the student athletes on the Men’s Tennis team. The
primary complaints amongst the student athletes were that they did not receive an
adequate supply of gear and/or equipment for the season to participate in practices
or to compete in matches and that they did not receive the total amount of gear
and/or equipment that they were told and agreed to by a signed contract. They
said they had to share their gear this past season with the new incoming student
athletes because the Coach Ecarma did not give them enough gear for ACC
matches. They said he held onto gear and made them earn it throughout the year;
this created the need for some of the student athletes to borrow gear from others.
They said some of them did not receive a winter jacket this season and others who
did receive one, only received one after a complaint was made and the winter
season was almost over.

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

Multiple individuals complained that Coach Ecarma did not distribute enough
shoes to the student athletes during the season and that this has been a problem in
past seasons. They said the complaints about shoes are getting better now
because the shoes are supposed to go through the equipment manager. Some
individuals also complained about not receiving enough tennis rackets and at
times had to share with their teammates.

• We reviewed the UofL Athletic Department’s policy on equipment and met with
the designated equipment manager about the distribution of gear and equipment.
We found that the head coach may limit the amount of gear and equipment
distributed to the student athletes based on need during the season. Additionally,
the gear and equipment ordered for the season may be used in future seasons if it
is not needed during the current season and it is not deemed obsolete. The
equipment manager confirmed he is responsible for ordering equipment and gear,
but the head coach has to approve the orders and distribution. He told us that he
distributes the workout gear, court shoes, and tennis shoes to the student athletes
in August. He said the student athletes receive three pairs of shoes in the fall and
three pairs in the spring. He said some of the student athletes might receive more
shoes if they wear their shoes out sooner than the other athletes do. He said the
student athletes come directly to him to pick up their gear and they implemented
this new process two years ago along with a new inventory system. He said the
head coach still directs him on when to give out the apparel. We asked the
equipment manager what knowledge he has about any concerns or complaints
about the distribution of the gear or equipment. He said he had a complaint
brought to him last year about the team not being provided winter coats until after
the winter season. He said that he reminded the head coach several times that they
had winter coats in stock. The equipment manager felt like the coach blamed him
for the winter coats not being distributed timely because the coach made him feel
like he did not remind him enough times.

• We requested a copy of the signed contract that allegedly lists the amount of gear
and equipment the student athletes would receive as being part of the UofL Men’s
Tennis team. This documentation was not provided; however, we did receive a list
of items that is allegedly shared with the prospective recruits that outlines items
the student athletes would receive at UofL in addition to a scholarship. We
reviewed the list, which identified the following gear: All Adidas competition
clothes (7 full outfits), All Adidas practice clothes (6 full outfits), Adidas shoes,
winter coat, hoodie, wristbands, headbands, summer hats, winter hats, jacket,
warm-up pants and top, spandex, long-sleeved shirts, and backpack. The list does
not indicate if this is the amount of gear or equipment a student athlete would
receive each year and it does not state how or when the gear or equipment would
be distributed.

• We asked Coach Ecarma what discussion occurs between him and prospective
recruits about the amount of gear and equipment they would receive if they
commit to UofL. He replied, “General stuff, meaning Adidas is our sponsor,

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

meaning their uniforms and their shoes, their socks, and their warm-up outfits will
be Adidas. They’ve got to be clear on that.” We asked Coach Ecarma if he
provides them a written list of items during the recruitment process to let them
know what they can expect to receive as a student athlete at UofL. The coach told
us that the equipment manager distributes the gear and said that when he last
asked the equipment manager about what is distributed to the student athletes
when they first arrive on campus, he was told 8 pairs of shorts, 14 shirts, 2
jackets, 2 hoodies, 2 warm-up pants, 7 pairs of tennis shoes, 2 pairs of running
shoes, 3 bags, socks, and wrist bands.

He further clarified this is what they start out with in the fall and then they get
more in the spring. We asked Coach Ecarma if a list of gear and equipment exists
that the student athletes can expect to get. He responded that he would have to
look for that. We sent this follow-up question to Coach Ecarma. He replied, “At
times, when a recruit specifically asks what Adidas will provide them. It includes
bags, shoes, wamp-up suits, hoodie, warm-up jacket, shirts and shorts. Over the
course of their 4 year careers, they [receive] more much more than is required.
When I took them on a trip to Hawaii for a week none of the players ran out of
Adidas gear.” We asked Coach Ecarma if he waited until February this year to
provide the student athletes with a winter coat and if so, why. He replied, “That is
the job of the equipment manager who receives the material from Adidas directly.
I do not receive any material from Adidas directly. After he received them, he
gets them embroidered with a Cardinal logo then distributes them to the team.”
6. Coach Ecarma has been given a large amount of gear during his 29 years as the head
coach of the Men’s Tennis team. Additionally, he has been given gift cards over the years
from Adidas that can range from $2,500 to $5,000 to purchase Adidas brand
merchandise. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether the coach took gear
and other items from the University for his personal use or his family’s personal use and
without paying for them.

7. Coach Ecarma has attended recruiting trips for the University that have been on occasion
at the same location as his sons’ tennis tournaments. We interviewed individuals about
this allegation and reviewed associated travel documentation. We found insufficient
evidence to determine whether Coach Ecarma scheduled University recruiting activities
at locations based primarily on his sons’ tennis tournament locations and for his personal
benefit and not for the benefit of the University.

8. On April 29, 2019, Coach Ecarma was provided a notice of immediate leave of absence
on behalf of ULAA. Based on interviews, Coach Ecarma has been contacting the sports
administrator on a daily basis by phone to obtain permission to be on campus and to ask
about specific head coaching activities. The sports administrator confirmed this
information.

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University Integrity and Compliance Office

Recommendations

Based on our findings, we recommend the following:

• Evaluate and determine appropriate disciplinary action up to and including


termination for Rex Ecarma. Please consult with Human Resources, University
Counsel and the VP for Risk, Audit, and Compliance when making this
determination.

Please follow up with me or Jennifer Mudd regarding the status of completion of the above noted
recommendations. You may also contact us with any questions or concerns specific to our
findings outlined in this report.

cc: Neeli Bendapudi


Amy Shoemaker
John Carns
Sandy Russell
Jennifer Mudd
Donna Ernst
Matt Banker
Audit, Compliance, and Risk Committee of the Board of the Trustees

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