Early in the fall of 2018, we shared news that the college had self-reported potential rules violations to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regarding the awarding of financial aid to certain prospective student-athletes. Now, after a year-long joint investigation by the NCAA enforcement staff and the college, the NCAA has issued its findings on the matter.
The NCAA has found, and the college acknowledges, that the college violated NCAA Division III bylaws relating to financial aid, and that 1) the college failed to properly award financial aid in accordance with those bylaws, and 2) lacked institutional control by failing to properly educate employees about particular NCAA rules relating to financial aid.
When concerns were first brought forward in 2018 by a member of our enrollment division, the information was immediately shared with the appropriate campus leadership, and the Office of General Counsel retained the law firm of Bond Schoeneck & King to review the matter. The firm expeditiously conducted an independent investigation and, weeks later, based on that independent investigation, the college self-reported potential rules violations to the NCAA.
After reviewing hundreds of documents and communications, and interviewing more than two dozen witnesses, the NCAA agreed there were violations and determined the following:
- The former vice president and dean of enrollment management did not follow NCAA bylaws in packaging some student-athletes’ financial aid, and incorrectly considered athletic status as one of many factors when awarding $335,300 in financial aid.
- Ultimately, after the college re-considered those financial aid packages without taking the prospective student-athletes’ status into consideration, it was determined that just six student-athletes received impermissible aid totaling $13,482. The college worked transparently and quickly with the NCAA’s eligibility staff to restore eligibility to those six student-athletes.
- No coaches nor athletics department staff were found individually culpable for the violations.
- Additionally, no former or current students, nor parents, were found to have had knowledge of the violations.
In light of these admitted violations, the college has informed the NCAA that it would agree to the imposition of several sanctions, including a public reprimand and censure; two years of probation; the forfeiture of all statistics and records from the 12 games played by one student-athlete’s participation in our men’s lacrosse 2018 season; a $2,500 fine; a third-party audit of all relevant policies and procedures; and attendance at the 2020 and 2021 NCAA Regional Rules Seminars. The NCAA has accepted those sanctions, which have been posted on the NCAA’s website.
Since these allegations first became known, college leadership took deliberate and immediate action and proceeded with the utmost seriousness. Early on, as later required by the NCAA, the college retained the 3-Fold Group, experts in athletic policies and Division III bylaws compliance, to conduct a review of select athletics, enrollment and financial aid policies and procedures, with a focus on compliance systems, communications and general administrative operations. They determined that while our procedures and practices were strong, they could be enhanced in certain areas. We acted purposefully on their recommendations.
Ursinus has also taken numerous steps to enhance our training and education to further ensure compliance and to strengthen the institution. Furthermore, having been fully apprised of the issue from the beginning, the board of trustees created an athletics governance task force to provide oversight of the review and any athletic-related matters. That task force continues its work today.
The former vice president and dean of enrollment management resigned in September 2018. The current vice president and dean of enrollment management and her staff, in addition to the director of athletics and coaches, are committed to NCAA III bylaws and will continue to ensure compliance.
Please accept our regret over these violations. Though we made mistakes, we are proud of how the institution responded transparently and deliberately when confronted with the allegations. We acted swiftly, we accepted responsibility and we took steps to ensure that there will not be a repeat. We are appreciative of the professionalism and assistance of the NCAA staff in this matter and will continue to pursue excellence with integrity.