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Track coach resigns in response to violations

On the same day the South Florida track and field team reported itself to the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) for two violations, they lost an assistant coach.

Melissa Miller, who had been part of the USF coaching staff since 2006, committed a secondary violation, and was granted her resignation Tuesday.

Because Miller’s violation was secondary and USF took disciplinary actions against itself, the University will not face NCAA sanctions, Assistant Athletic Director of Communications Chris Freet said. The two violations reported by the University revolved around Adam Hortian, graduate student and former member of the USF track and field team.

One violation occurred Feb. 23, when Hortian accepted money after winning the Suncoast Classic Run for Kids. The prize for first place was $600. By accepting money, Hortian lost his amateur status, according to NCAA rules. Despite his eligibility status, Hortian competed in three races for the Bulls.

The second reported violation occurred May 30, 2007, when Miller told Hortian that she would “highly recommend” him for a graduate assistantship (GA) coaching position without informing head track and field coach Warren Bye.

“It was my dream,” Hortian said. “Coach Miller recruited me, but the reason I chose to come here was because of the coaching position. I was told that if I take out a loan for my first year that I would be offered the GA coaching position in my second year.”

The coaching position was particularly important to Hortian because he previously resided in Ontario, Canada.

The position came with an annual stipend of $15,000, which Hortian could have used to pay tuition. Along with training to be a member of the coaching staff, Hortian – an education major – would have spent time as a study hall director and academic adviser.

According to a letter sent to Hortian, a GA coaching position was available from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. According to Freet, however, there was no position available at that time because it was not in the budget.

The report sent to the NCAA stated that there was no GA coaching position budgeted or available for the 2009-2010 season, either. The report also stated that Miller “was neither authorized to advise any potential student athlete that a position existed nor authorized to recommend the potential student athlete for such a position.”

Freet said that no such position existed, and Bye was completely unaware of Miller’s recommendation to Hortian.

“I saw this as a way for me to fulfill a dream of mine,” Horitan said. “I was heartbroken when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to coach.”

Bye and Miller were not available for comment.