Sac State tennis program placed on 3-year probation following NCAA violations


Courtesy of Bob Solorio / Sac State Athletics

Former Sacramento State head coach Vyacheslav “Slava” Konikov talks with former player and current volunteer assistant Christopher Clayton after a match at the Rio del Oro Raquet Club. Konikov resigned after 11 years with the men’s tennis program to coach professionally in Europe.

The Sacramento State women’s and men’s tennis programs are under three years of probation through April 18, 2021, according to an NCAA report published on Thursday.

The report cites numerous infractions involving the University, former players, coaches and the director of tennis. While the report did not disclose any specific names, The State Hornet identified the individuals involved through public records and interviews with players and coaches.

According to the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, after the University did not renew the scholarships of two players, former Sac State Director of Tennis Bill Campbell provided or arranged for a booster to provide tuition for them.

The report states that the former director also routinely supplied student-athletes and prospects with housing arrangements, free tennis instruction and facility use at the Rio del Oro Racquet Club.

This facility — which is approximately a mile away from campus — was a local tennis club he owned where both programs practiced and played prior to the 2016-17 season, according to the report.

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Additionally, the University reportedly did not meet mandatory medical examination requirements.

The NCAA stated that “The university impermissibly allowed nurse practitioners to complete student-athlete exams before NCAA rules allowed nurse practitioners to do so. Further, the university allowed student-athletes to participate in athletics before meeting sickle cell test requirements. Finally, the university did not require all student-athletes participating in tryouts to undergo a medical exam before their tryout.

“The university failed to monitor its tennis programs in several ways — when it lacked oversight of the programs’ affiliation with the former director’s tennis club; when it did not monitor the former director’s coaching and recruiting activities; when it did not review the countable athletically related activity at the former director’s tennis club; and when it did not comply with mandatory medical examination rules.”

Former women’s head coach Dima Hrynashka — who was released after the 2015-16 season despite remaining under contract with Sac State through May 24, 2017 — said that he could not comment on the issue and had not seen the NCAA’s report as of press time.

Hrynashka also declined to comment prior to the publication of the report after being contacted multiple times by The State Hornet.

In January 2017, The State Hornet reported then-seniors Alina Soltanici and Deimante Bulatovaite were inactive due to injury. After Bulatovaite revealed in March 2017 that she was not in fact injured, The State Hornet reached out to former Sac State Assistant Media Relations Director Andrew Tomsky.

“At this point we are unable to provide details due to an ongoing investigation,” Tomsky said via text message.

Like Hrynashka, former head men’s tennis coach Vyacheslav “Slava” Konikov gave Campbell free range in recruiting, according to the NCAA report. Konikov made no attempt to oversee the activity which resulted in his failure to detect violations of NCAA rules, the report stated.

In January 2018, Konikov resigned from his position at Sac State. The State Hornet reported that Konikov left the University to coach professionally in Europe.

Konikov could not be reached for comment at this time.

“The men’s coach also was personally involved in violations of countable athletically related activity rules,” the NCAA report stated. “Finally, he did not monitor his assistant coach’s involvement in the impermissible arrangement of housing for incoming student-athletes.”

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During the investigation, Sac State admitted that it was unable to devote the necessary resources to ensure the tennis programs were following NCAA rules.

The University also self-imposed numerous measures, including a $5,000 fine, a postseason ban for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 women’s tennis seasons and a ban on international recruiting trips by countable coaches in the women’s tennis program for two years.

Sac State Athletic Director Mark Orr could not be reached for comment, but released a statement via Hornet Athletics on Friday.

“Sacramento State athletics expects a high level of compliance in all of our operations,” Orr stated. “We have taken actions to support NCAA compliance oversight and continue to educate our coaches and staff on all NCAA bylaws. We are pleased that the NCAA Committee on Infractions recognized our University’s exemplary cooperation during the investigation of these violations.”

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, The State Hornet reported that boosters were provided in place of scholarships for Alina Soltanici and Deimante Bulatovaite. These players were ineligible during the 2016-17 season, but the reason for their ineligibility is still unknown at this time.