(AP/CBS) — The NCAA is stripping Massachusetts of victories in men’s basketball and women’s tennis for overpaying 12 athletes about $9,100 in financial aid over three years.
The NCAA announced Friday the Committee on Infractions had imposed a two-year probation on UMass that will end October 2022 in addition to vacating results involving athletes who received what were determined to be inappropriate payments.
The school will also pay a self-imposed fine of $5,000.
UMass plans to appeal the committee’s decision to vacate victories, which include 59 basketball wins and an Atlantic 10 Conference championship in women’s tennis from 2014-17.
“As an athletics department we accept that we made administrative mistakes in the distribution of athletic aid through our financial aid process,” UMass Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford said Friday. “However, we do not believe that the penalties imposed by the NCAA are appropriate, nor proportional to the violations that occurred. These were simply operational errors in our compliance systems that did not functionally detect payments above our cost of attendance. The errors occurred with no intent to gain a competitive or recruiting advantage, or to compromise the collegiate model. Our administrative and coaching staffs and student-athletes were completely unaware of the mistakes until we audited our records as part of the NCAA review. To vacate wins as a form of penalty – hurting our student-athletes who did nothing wrong – is an overreach by the infractions panel and is deeply disappointing.
“This unfortunate error in our operational processes has led to a comprehensive review of our procedures for setting and distributing athletic scholarship aid,” Bamford added. “We have updated our procedures, invested in new compliance software and added a full-time position in student financial services to assist our department in monitoring the financial aid disbursement process.”
The NCAA said four athletes received a higher housing rate after they moved to less-expensive off-campus housing, and eight continued to receive a telecom fee for those who live in on-campus after they moved to off. One athlete received both.
The NCAA determined the overpayments caused the athletes competed while ineligible.
The committee said a former associate athletics director’s misunderstanding of financial aid rules and administrative error resulted in the violations.
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