Sports Sig

Former Nebraska women’s gymnastics head coach Dan Kendig met with Athletics Director Bill Moos shortly before what was supposed to be the start of his 26th season in. By the end of that 2018 meeting, Kendig decided to resign. 

18 months later, the whole story has come out. 

According to a Public Negotiated Resolution Agreement between the University of Nebraska and the NCAA released on Tuesday morning, a scheme in which a former volunteer assistant coach was paid through a fictitious company turned out to be the cause of Kendig’s departure just weeks before the start of the 2018-19 season.

The resolution stated that Nebraska’s women’s gymnastics program exceeded the permissible number of countable coaches when a volunteer coach was paid $300 per year by each student-athlete on the team for floor exercise choreography and music.

The payments were considered impermissible benefits, given the coach’s volunteer status.

The infractions, which were self-reported by Nebraska, have led to Level II-standard penalties for the university and Level II-aggravated penalties for Kendig and the volunteer coach by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which were announced in the agreement.

As a result, the Nebraska Women’s Gymnastics program was penalized with two years of probation, a fine of $5,000 and 1 percent of the women’s gymnastics budget and a reduction of one countable women’s gymnastics coach, which was already served during the 2018-19 season. 

Kendig was given a three-year show-cause order, meaning he is restricted from any athletically related duties unless the university employing him shows cause why he should not be restricted. He also must be suspended from the first 40 percent of contests during the first year of the period. If he is employed by an NCAA member school during the three-year period, he will be forced to attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at his own expense.

The volunteer assistant was given a two-year show-cause order with similar guidelines to Kendig’s.

No names were listed in the resolution, but it states that the volunteer coach in question held that position from 2014-18. From 2014-18, Russell Warfield was the only volunteer coach listed on Nebraska’s staff

Per the synopsis in the resolution, an outside consultant began helping Nebraska gymnasts develop floor exercise choreography and music in 2011. As an outside consultant, he was allowed to be paid by the athletes for his services.

In September 2014, the report states that Kendig “encouraged the outside consultant to become a volunteer coach so he could assume a greater role with the women’s gymnastics program.” This designation allowed him to work with student athletes within team facilities and work with the coaching staff. 

However, issues arose when the volunteer coach continued to be paid by the gymnasts for floor exercise choreography. As a member of the coaching staff, this was deemed impermissible. According to the report, he would stay in Lincoln three weeks per year.

In order for the volunteer coach to continue being paid for his services, he and Kendig created a fictitious entity named “Fantasy Floor Music” in 2015. Payments were to be directed to this entity in order to prevent the university from detecting them. Kendig would then receive invoices from the fraudulent company to be made payable to an associate of the volunteer coach.

The standard practice for paying invoices to volunteer coaches in the athletic department has been to submit the invoices directly to the institution via a purchase requisition form. Instead, Kendig paid the associate by check from an account of his own and requested reimbursement from the university via an employee non-travel expense voucher, which was allowed by school policy. 

The total amount of impermissible benefits was determined to be approximately $33,600.

Following the requested expense voucher, the Nebraska business office and the senior woman administrator and women’s gymnastics sport supervisor warned Kendig to submit the floor exercise music invoices directly to the institution for payment. The resolution synopsis states that Kendig expressed dissatisfaction with the request, which led to the university interviewing Kendig and others and uncovering the arrangement.

Shortly after being told of the infractions found in the internal investigation, Kendig tendered his resignation on October 15, 2018. Associate head coach Heather Brink was named the interim head coach, and has since had the interim tag removed.

Following the release of the resolution Tuesday morning, the university released the following statement:

“The University of Nebraska has received communication from the NCAA Committee on Infractions detailing a resolution to the case involving our women’s gymnastics program. We appreciate the cooperation and dialogue we have had with the NCAA during this process. Our focus now is on the future of our women’s gymnastics program under the direction of Head Coach Heather Brink.”  

Throughout his tenure, Kendig was a highly respected coach in women’s college gymnastics. He was an 11-time conference coach of the year winner and won national awards for his coaching in 1999 and 2003. He also led the Huskers to nine Big 12 titles, three Big Eight titles and three Big Ten titles. 

On a national level, Kendig led Nebraska to the NCAA Super Six finals 12 times, including a program-record fourth place finish in 2000. During his 25 year run, Nebraska women’s gymnastics produced 150 All-Americans.

The resolution states that Kendig did not rebut the findings. 

Following the completion of the investigation, the volunteer coach has not responded to the NCAA enforcement staff’s invitations to participate in the processing of the matter, according to the resolution. Because of his lack of participation, he was listed as a nonparticipant in the case. The university stated that he has been permanently disassociated from the institution.

Nebraska also took a corrective action to provide additional education to all coaches in all sports that are allowed to have volunteer coaches.