By Kevin Wells and Chris Klint
Channel 2 News
4:27 PM AKST, November 13, 2012
The University of Alaska Fairbanks says it will not contest an upcoming NCAA investigation of infractions in its athletic scholarship programs, self-imposing penalties including the three-year suspension of nine scholarships in five of its own programs.
According to a Tuesday statement from the university, the investigation stems from secondary infractions reported by the university to the NCAA in June 2011, involving 17 students in athletic programs who informally changed their majors without filing appropriate paperwork or weren’t earning enough countable credits. The infractions occurred between the 2007-08 and 2010-11 school years and will not result in any current student-athlete being ruled academically ineligible.
When the changes weren’t noticed by UAF advising and eligibility certification systems, the Nanooks ran afoul of NCAA regulations requiring student-athletes to take 12 credit hours per semester, earn at least a 2.0 grade point average and make progress toward their recorded majors.
“I think it’s really important to note that these infractions are not the result of wrongdoing or poor academic performance by student-athletes, who collectively have higher-than-average GPAs and graduation rates,” UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said in the statement. “This was the university’s mistake, not the student-athletes’.”
Several steps have been taken by the university to address the incident, including hiring a full-time academic advisor dedicated to student-athletes at its Academic Advising Center, as well as assigning two employees in the registrar’s office to student-athletes’ records and training them on compliance with NCAA regulations. One of UAF’s self-imposed penalties includes increased reporting to the NCAA.
The suspended scholarships include two each in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s hockey and women’s swimming, with one suspension per program taking effect over the next two years. A ninth suspension, in the Nanooks’ women’s skiing program, will take effect next year.
“While infractions are not something we want to have, we have used these as a springboard to help improve the systems we have to support our student-athletes,” said athletic director Gary Gray. “We plan to work closely with the NCAA as they work through this case and provide any additional information they need to resolve it.”
The NCAA may impose its own sanctions going forward or request further information on the case. UAF says it will not contest the NCAA’s findings because the infractions were self-reported.
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