NCAA: Baruch gave players over $255K in improper benefits - Sports Illustrated

NCAA: Baruch gave players over $255K in improper benefits

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NEW YORK (AP) Baruch College gave 30 student-athletes more than $255,000 in improper benefits over the course of five years, NCAA officials said in a decision issued Thursday.

The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions said the school's former vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and its former head women's basketball coach both violated NCAA ethical conduct rules.

''As I stated unambiguously to the NCAA, Baruch College accepts, and takes full responsibility for, the fact that some improper benefits were made available to a limited number of student-athletes during the period from 2010-2015,'' Baruch College's President Mitchel B. Wallerstein said in a statement.

The committee said in its report that it had not seen a high-level campus administrator who had such ''breadth and scope of responsibilities in an infractions case'' as the former vice president.

''The former vice president wanted to raise the profile of athletics at the college and as part of that effort he was closely involved in the recruitment, admission and awarding of financial aid for prospects and student-athletes, especially in the sport of women's basketball,'' Gerald Houlihan, a member of the infractions committee.

The administrator and coach were not named in the report and university officials declined to name them.

The former vice president, who was with the institution for 10 years, and former head women's basketball coach ''knowingly arranged or provided impermissible financial aid and extra benefits to student-athletes,'' according to the NCAA.

However, the former vice president claimed he did not receive education on NCAA rules, therefore the violations were inadvertent. The former head women's basketball coach also said he had insufficient rules education, according to the NCAA.

The penalties include four years of probation, a one-year postseason ban for the women's basketball team and prohibiting the coach and vice president from all athletically related duties for one year.

When asked about the possibility of an appeal, Baruch spokesperson Christina Latouf said the college will ''digest the information and respond at another time.'' The school in Manhattan has 18,000 students and 13 sports teams, according to its website.

Violations included granting in-state residency based on athletics, providing impermissible financial aid, cash awards and extra benefits and choosing student-athletes for resident assistant positions when they were not qualified.

The case started when Baruch College received two anonymous letters in early 2013 that alleged the former vice president provided two student-athletes improper financial aid. An internal investigation was conducted and a self-report was submitted to the NCAA enforcement staff in January 2014.

Wallerstein said the college made some changes during the course of the NCAA's investigation, including revamping the role of the athletics director, appointing a new faculty athletics representative, establishing an athletics compliance team and improving training on student-athlete recruitment and financial aid.

This was not the first time Baruch College was found to have committed major violations.

In the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years, the women's basketball program was involved in a work-study program that wasn't monitored correctly and led to extra benefits and wages for work not completed. Penalties included one year probation, a $5,000 penalty, vacated wins, and a two-game suspension for an assistant coach.

Houlihan said the prior case did not factor into the committee's decision.

''I am committed to having an Athletics Program at Baruch College of which our students, faculty, staff, and the entire Baruch community can be proud and that is managed in an ethical and responsible fashion,'' Wallerstein said.