Boise State gets NCAA probation, scholarship cuts for violations
NCAA has placed Boise St. on three years of probation for violations across sports
Football program will have nine fewer scholarships through the 2013-14 seasons
Sanctions follow an NCAA inquiry that found lack of institutional control at Boise
BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The NCAA placed Boise State on probation for three years and imposed other sanctions Tuesday for major violations by the football program and other sports.
The sanctions included a public reprimand, a one-year postseason ban for women's tennis and recruiting restrictions and scholarship reductions. Some of the penalties had previously been self-imposed by the university.
Boise State's football program will be able to offer three fewer scholarships each year, from 85 to 82, through the 2013-14 season. The football team will also be allowed fewer contact practices during spring training for three years.
Gregory Sankey, associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and a member of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, said the committee opted to go beyond the penalties that Boise State imposed on itself because the violations took place over multiple years.
Boise State President Bob Kustra said Boise State's rapid growth over the last decade, from an upstart Division II program into a perennial Top 25 team, likely outstripped the school's capacity to keep tabs on compliance with NCAA rules. Kustra, who fired former athletic director Gene Bleymaier in August, said he'd hoped the self-imposed sanctions would have been enough to avoid probation.
"Having new leadership in the office of athletic director that understands the critical role compliance can play in the life of the program" will help prevent future violations, Kustra told The Associated Press in an interview. "You're always going to be disappointed in penalties. It is what it is. Now, our job is to move forward."
Football coach Chris Petersen said he, too, thought the school had done enough to show NCAA officials it had addressed the problems.
"I was surprised by the findings. I am also disappointed," said Petersen, adding that he doesn't think the NCAA announcement will distract the fourth-ranked Broncos from preparations for their game against Toledo on Friday.
The sanctions follow an NCAA inquiry that found a lack of institutional controls necessary for Boise State to fully comply with rules governing collegiate athletic programs.
The NCAA says the case included numerous major violations involving more than 75 prospects and student-athletes in five sports.
"The committee concluded that a competitive advantage was gained in most instances," said Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, another member of the NCAA infractions committee who reviewed the case.
Among the violations: From 2005 through 2009, football staff members arranged inadmissible summer housing and transportation for 63 prospective student-athletes.
In 2008-09, Boise State allowed a women's tennis player to practice, play and receive travel expenses after her fourth season of competition.
Under the penalties, former Boise State tennis coach Mark Tichenor faces sanctions that will make it tough for other NCAA schools to hire him for the next four years. In testimony to NCAA investigators, Tichenor said he knew it was against the rules to pay more than $2,000 for an international recruit's intensive English classes, but did so anyway because he felt "pressure to recruit, pressure to get players here," according to the committee's report.
Assistant track and field coach Tom Shanahan faces similar two-year sanctions.
But former assistant tennis coach Tiffany Coll was cleared of allegations that include giving false statements to investigators, her attorney said.
"She's completely vindicated," David Leroy told the AP. "They've sent her a letter saying that."
The NCAA report found problems within Boise State's compliance department, including failure to monitor international athletes' housing.
Among the sanctions, Boise State will be prohibited for two years from recruiting prospective international student-athletes for cross country and track and field, as well as for women's tennis. The women's tennis team was hit with a one-year ban on post-season play.
Sankey said the school's compliance department had inadequate staffing to meet the school's needs.
Kustra said that moving the department from the athletic department into the school president's office, as well as stepping up education of coaches and officials on how to follow NCAA rules, was a part of "a series of changes to the way we do business" that would help BSU steer clear of similar problems in the future.
"The infractions and subsequent penalties have left us no margin for error going forward, and have changed the nature of oversight required," Kustra said.
Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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