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NCAA Financial Aid Violations

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NCAA Financial Aid Violations June 15, 2012 6:07 AM

The NCAA has been made aware of many financial issues needing to be addressed in Tier III Junior Hockey, and within their own sanctioned D-1 and D-3 programs.

The University of New England was cited for failing to monitor its financial aid process, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions.

The university awarded financial aid packages during two academic years to student-athletes in a pattern clearly distinguishable from what was provided to all students at the university. Penalties include two years of probation, a suspension for the director of athletics and forfeiture of the financial aid in question.

Among the other penalties listed, the hockey team could also be impacted. Six hockey student-athletes who received aid from the Diversity Scholarship could choose to continue to participate in athletics and receive reduced financial aid, or continue to receive the higher amount and no longer participate in athletics. This sanction was self-imposed by the university.

The NCAA said that from 2008 to 2010, the university gave more Diversity Scholarship money — intended to enhance UNE’s cultural and ethnic diversity — to student-athletes than to the rest of the student body. NCAA rules prevent Division III schools from granting athletic scholarships.

The Committee on Infractions noted in its news release and public infractions report that the violations were "unintentional."

According to the NCAA’s infractions report, student-athletes comprised 34 percent of the students receiving Diversity Scholarship money in 2008-09. They were awarded 43 percent of the available money.

On average, student-athletes received $2,039 more in that year than students who did not play sports, according to the NCAA.

During the 2009-10 academic year, student-athletes comprised 27 percent of the students receiving scholarships. They were awarded 42 percent of the available funds, according to the report.

In 2009-10, the largest Diversity Scholarship given to an American athlete was $6,000, while the scholarships given to "international athletes" ranged from $12,000 to $20,500, the NCAA said.

The men’s basketball coach and the men’s hockey coach knew of the Diversity Scholarship and mentioned it when recruiting prospective student-athletes, according to the NCAA report.

Considering this report and its base investigation began to be developed based on 2008 information its fairly clear that although the NCAA takes its time, they will do so because of wanting to be thorough.

A similar investigation appears to be ongoing in Tier III junior hockey with particular scrutiny being applied to certain teams on the eastern coast of the Unite States. Sources within NCAA compliance have informed TJHN that they will continue to take thier time investigating to make sure all facts are uncoverd. Sources also confirmed that if inappropriate financial behaviors are found to have taken place that scholarships will be taken away from players who violated those rules.

The basis of Tier III hockey and the focus of the investigation relies on teams not charging players equally for tuition. Some players have been alleged to have played with no charge at all while others were paying $10,000.00 or more. This violates NCAA rules on receiving anything of value for athletic ability, in effect making those players who participated in such an operation inelligible to play NCAA sports.

Unfortunately, if the investigation reveals those financial problems, the NCAA will not have any recourse on the offending junior teams or their coaches. USA Hockey would be the only governing body that could impose sanctions based on those findings.

Joseph Kolodziej

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