2016 KBF OPEN - Kentucky Lake Infraction Report

Special Advisory Panel Report and KBF Management Response, March 25, 2017

2016 KBF Rule Infraction Investigation Results

Below are two documents that will open by clicking the title tab. First is the report by a Special Advisory Panel convened to investigate a rules infraction that recently came to light, to determine the reasons, identify consequences, and develop recommendations that will help KBF avoid a repeat. Second is KBF Management’s response, including our final judgment in the matter, commentary, and commitments.

These two documents were released to KBF Members first, on March 25. We are publishing them here so that the wider kayak fishing community may learn, first-hand, a description of what occurred, how KBF went about conducting its investigation, and what came out of it.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Panel’s findings, approve of the actions they proposed, of your opinions on the efficacy of the commitments KBF Management made in response, we hope all will find the thoroughness of the Panel’s investigation to be reassuring and signal that while not perfect, KBF is both capable and committed to fair play, and is willing to invest the effort and resources required to continually improve.

Advisory Panel Report

March 23, 2017 Kayak Bass Fishing Management:

Issue

A violation of KBF Rules that occurred during the 2016 KBF OPEN Tournament on Kentucky Lake, potentially affecting the outcome of that event. The infraction was submission during the same event of a second photo of the same fish by the same angler.

The KBF Member who freely admitted to having committed the infraction is Jay Wallen. He was awarded first place in the Tournament and went on to win 2016 KBF Angler of the Year and competed in The TEN and Best of the Best as a result of his KBF AOY points standing.

Action

A Special Advisory Panel of 4 individuals was convened by KBF Management and tasked with investigating the infraction, suggesting appropriate action as it pertains to the individual angler’s case, as well as recommend possible rule modifications, procedural changes and penalties that will help prevent such violations in the future and outline specific actions that will be taken in the event said violation is made moving forward.

To serve, each Panel member was required to have in-depth understanding of the kayak bass fishing tournament process and of KBF’s standard operating procedures for conducting tournaments and judging, and that he have no direct ties to the angler in question nor a stake in the tournament in which the violation occurred. The panel consisted of Shane Williams, Brad Case, Casey Reed, and Everett Park.

The panel began its investigation on 3/20/17, commencing with gathering of all facts pertinent to the situation. Over the next two days, interviews were held with Wallen, an angler that fished in proximity to him during the Open, the judges from the 2016 Open, Joe Haubenreich and Chad Hoover. The panel reviewed Wallen’s photos from all TourneyX events in which he competed during the 2016 Season. On the evening of 3/22/17, Wallen was interviewed by a detective from the Louisville Police Department who then administered a polygraph test.

Finding

After review all of the information available, the panel was unanimous in concluding:

1. There exists no compelling evidence that Wallen’s submission of two photos of a single fish was done with intent to deceive or defraud. All evidence, including the polygraph, primary evidence, and interviews, points to the rule violation as being inadvertent.

2. Additionally, photographic evidence supplied by Wallen and confirmed by TourneyX records indicates that Wallen had culled an eligible photo that was slightly shorter than one he was attempting to submit, but he selected the incorrect photo from his photo album. Had the fish he culled remained on the Leader Board, Wallen’s cumulative score would have secured his first place finish.

3. KBF’s standard operating procedure is for a judge to notify any angler when a duplicate photo has been submitted (as well as for other infractions) and to allow the angler to correct his mistake by submitting an alternate, eligible photo. Had KBF Judges properly identified the second photo of Wallen’s same bass, they would have culled the second fish and notified him of the issue, whereupon he would have taken the opportunity to re-submit the fish he had just culled. Therefore, responsibility for this infraction surviving to the final ranking is shared equally by KBF and Wallen.

4. This issue came to light months after the deadline for submission of challenges and disputes. KBF Policy as of now limits submission of scoring disputes or penalty appeals to a 24-hour timeframe. While this doesn’t preclude KBF from taking correcting measures to benefit other Competitors affected, having some statute of limitations is desirable and serves to protect Members rights.

Panel Recommendations

1. The Panel recommends that KBF place more responsibility on anglers to ensure they are not submitting the same fish by mistake and apply more stringent repercussions when they do. Anglers should be given until the end of competition hours to verify their fish and correct any mistakes they’ve made. This is something every angler needs to do; not leave it up to the judges to catch their mistakes. Find it and fix it before end of competition hours.

1.1. Specifically, we recommend that at end-of-competition, if an angler has submitted a fish twice, and it is his first such offense, the angler be disqualified from the event with no KBF Angler of the Year Points awarded.

1.2. A second occurrence of the same infraction, whether at the same event or any other KBF-sanctioned event, should result in the angler being suspended from participation in any KBF-sanctioned competition for six months.

1.3. A third infraction should result in the angler being suspended from participation in any KBF-sanctioned competition for 12 months.

Again, this is to emphasize anglers take the time to confirm their stringer is correct BEFORE the competition is over to alleviate any unintentional duplicate submissions. KBF Management should identify a class of rule infraction that would result in a lifetime ban from all KBF events.

2. Judges should be required to complete a certification process prior to scoring for KBF.

3. Current policy dictates verifying any fish within 0.25″ of another scored fish for duplication. The Panel suggests this be moved up to 1.00″. In addition, all PAID places should be checked specifically for duplicate fish, regardless of any differences in length.

4. For any event where the payout exceeds $9,999, a panel of 3-5 non-placing anglers should verify all fish within the paid places.

5. For any event where the payout exceeds $9,999, the first place angler should be given a mandatory polygraph test, administered on site, prior to the awards.

6. For any event where the payout exceeds $9,999, the time period for disputes and appeals should be extended to 7 days after end-of-competition.

Implementing the above recommendations will help prevent the angler from submitting duplicate fish and will ensure judges are taking all steps necessary to identify duplicate submissions.

The Panel spent 30+ hours addressing Wallen’s situation as well as how to deal with and minimize similar infractions in the future. This was an intense and exhaustive inquiry to determine the facts and to deliberate on every possible cause, penalty and outcome. In the end, the Panel is confident these suggestions will have a positive impact on the organization’s procedures and KBF Members’ overall experience.

On behalf of KBF Members and the Kayak Fishing Community,

Shane, Brad, Casey, Everett

KBF Management Response

KBF MANAGEMENT RESPONSE

Acknowledgment

First, we commend the work of the Special Advisory Panel for thoroughly and diligently applying themselves to completion of a difficult task—judging the motives of another person. That, at the heart, was their assignment, and they executed it with vigor, dispatch and professionalism. The Panel’s members differ widely in many respects, and the uniformity with which their conclusions were drawn adds credibility to their findings. KBF stands in debt to them.

Decision

KBF Management accepts their conclusion of “no intent to defraud.” Therefore, KBF will not proceed as it would if cheating had been found to be involved, with disqualification, banishment from future competition, and legal prosecution.

However, even unintentional infractions or mistakes have consequences that range from insignificant to grave, so we reviewed the Panel’s findings to determine what impact the infraction had on the OPEN results. We conclude there was no impact on the outcome of the Tournament. Had the infraction been discovered and standard operating procedures followed, there would have been no change in the standings. Therefore, the 2016 KBF OPEN First Place remains with Wallen, as do the prizes and awards and 2016 KBF Angler of the Year ranking.

Rationale

We begin by acknowledging Wallen’s forthrightness and cooperation in this investigation. He displayed a laudable depth of character that we believe to be commonplace among KBF Members; that is, a desire for justice, for seeing the right thing done regardless of the personal consequences. Failures by KBF Management’s and KBF judges contributed to this regrettable situation, and we apologize for the unnecessary stress it imposed on Wallen and his friends and family.

Clearly an infraction occurred. That in itself is not remarkable. Because of the state of technology with which we operated in March 2016, Competitors’ submission of multiple photos of the same fish, even duplicate photos, was not uncommon. It’s something that the judges look for and almost always catch. When discovered, KBF’s default position is to assume it to be an innocent mistake, unless presented with overwhelming, compelling evidence to the contrary. And KBF’s standard operating procedure has been to deny the second instance, alert the Competitor of the infraction and penalty, and allow him opportunity to rectify an honest mistake before the judging concludes.

Within the allowed window for uploading photos at the Spring 2016 KBF OPEN Tournament on Kentucky Lake, Wallen was attempting, to improve his score by culling fish and submitting ones of longer length. So were three dozen other anglers at the same time. Not only on Kentucky Lake but in venues across the country, data signals are spotty, and many times Competitors are unable to upload digital photos on the lake. Many return to Tournament HQ in time to upload their photos. And as they scroll through their library of photos, most times with multiple photos of fish very similar in length, mistaking the identity of bass is easy to do—especially when the camera angle, hand position, and fish length varied, as happened here. In trying to maximize his score, Wallen culled the photo of a bass that was a fraction of an inch shorter than the last one he uploaded. The evidence clearly showed, and Wallen publicly agreed upon viewing the evidence, that his last photo was the different photo of the same fish that he had submitted earlier in the day. Interesting. Understandable. And in this case, unintentional. What’s truly remarkable is that the judges did not notice it.

Had the judges noticed at the time, the second photo would simply have been denied. Wallen would have been informed. He would have re-submitted the slightly shorter fish that he had just culled. His score would have dropped from 91.75 inches to 91.25. And instead of winning the event by 2.50 inches, he would have won by 2.00 inches. For that reason, his first place finish in that OPEN is justified and confirmed.

Conclusion

We wish to acknowledge the support shown by the KBF community for the review and decision process we implemented. For their understanding and patience, too. And we thank those who passionately expressed their views on both sides of the matter, who offered their evidence and a reasonable rationale for their conclusions. Those were forwarded to the Panel, which weighed every opinion critically and without bias, we believe, and they helped them to arrive at a conclusion in which they have absolute confidence.

We hope that this occurrence will restore confidence among not only KBF Members but in the wider kayak fishing community in the fairness and integrity of the system and of people who make up Kayak Bass Fishing, the rank and file as well as staff, judges, and directors.

Finally, I want to personally apologize to an individual, Adam Fillmore, whom I identified as the individual who brought this matter to the attention of KBF Management. Apparently I misunderstood that Adam did not approve my disclosure of his role in addressing this rules infraction. He clarified to me that was not his wish. My intentions were good: to commend him for his cooperation and assistance, which I thought would demonstrate Adam and Chad’s willingness to set aside past differences and work together for the benefit of this group. I’d hoped that might start to mend some fences, be a step in rebuilding relationships, and maybe start healing wounds that have festered way too long, to the detriment of this community. I understand of Adam and his friends to what must have appeared to be a calculated betrayal of his confidence. The fallout was exactly opposite of what I’d hoped it might lead to. Adam called to let me know where he stood. We had a constructive, positive conversation. He accepted my apology and I appreciate it. I urge us all, wherever our loyalties lie, to let go of whatever real or imagined grievances we suffered and commit to work harmoniously for the good of this community and of those for whom we care most.

Next Steps

1. KBF Management reviewed the Panel’s recommendations. We agree to place more responsibility on anglers to correctly identify fish, to reduce the incidence of duplicate and multiple photos of the same fish in the same completion, and to verify, themselves, before results are finalized that no infractions have occurred.

However, we reject the proposal for an arbitrary menu of punitive responses, such as stripping of KBF Angler of the Year points or suspension from competition. Rules violations will occur. There is not a single competitor who has not, at least inadvertently, transgressed. While casting one lure, how many of us have allowed enough line out so another lure on an unused rod is left dangling in the water? Infraction. How many have (before March 20) removed a PFD on the water to put on a rain jacket? Infraction. How many launch before sunrise without having an electric torch (a.k.a. flashlight) in reach that can serve as a signaling device, as required by the USCG? Infraction. Have you submitted two photos of the same fish in a month-long KBF Challenge, perhaps caught twice in the same cover but several weeks apart? Infraction. We reserve the right to identify mistakes for what they are; to deny fish that are inadmissible, and to allow Competitors to rectify their mistakes, if possible, but let the consequences be punishment in themselves.

If and when a rule infraction is believed by the Tournament Director to be the result of cheating—willful, deliberate intent to deceive— it will be investigated as a potential offense punishable by disqualification, banishment, and legal prosecution.

2. KBF Management commits to completion and implementation of a KBF judge certification process.

3. KBF Management commits to improving KBF’s SOP and to enforce it more rigorously with KBF-certified judges in KBF-sanctioned competition. This includes increasing the threshold for a second, closer examination of any fish half-inch or closer in length to those previously submitted by the same Competitor. We will take under advisement expanding that threshold to 0.75 inch or 1.0 inch and will implement the procedural change if we conclude it is warranted.

Another procedural change will be to formalize the requirement for verification of results by a committee of judges prior to finalizing competition standings. We accept the recommendation for a panel of 3-5 anglers from among the ranks not affected by the outcome to perform an independent review in competition where the prize amounts reach $10,000. That seems like a prudent and effective action and we may implement it for competition with a smaller prize purse at stake.

4. Regarding an on-site polygraph examination requirement, KBF Management will research this recommendation, identify costs, other requirements, the pros and cons, and consider alternatives. Before implementing such a measure, we would allow Competitors opportunity to express whether the increased confidence they felt in the result warranted a reduction in the prize purse in the amount required to pay for such a service. And we will review our current policy of using the possibility of polygraph testing as a deterrent.

5. KBF Management will study the proposed extension of the time period for implementing a challenge, dispute, and appeal and will modify the time frames to best serve the best interests of the individuals and of all the competitors involved. Our main focus will be to reduce, if not eliminate, many of the reasons that a challenge might be appropriate in the first place.

6. KBF will institute new protocols based on the increased judging proficiency and certification requirements, on technological advancements that have recently been implemented and others in the pipeline, and other organizational changes organizational incorporated over the past year. As well, KBF will increase its focus on competitor/angler responsibilities and accountability as a direct result of the recommendations of this panel.

Our schedules are full and the pace we’re currently setting is intense in the days leading up to the 2017 KBF National Championship, but KBF Management will implement as many of these measures and undertake our study as quickly as possible, and some of them will be in force at next weekend’s events.

Joe Haubenreich, General Manager, Kayak Bass Fishing