The University of Alaska Fairbanks will face a variety of penalties—including a $30,000 fine, a postseason ban in several sports and reduced scholarships—stemming from a series of NCAA infractions first discovered by the Nanooks in 2011.
UAF received word Wednesday morning of final decision from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.
The infractions spanned the 2007-2008 through 2011-2012 academic years and involved 40 student-athletes in nine of the Alaska Nanooks’ 10 sports teams. Only women’s cross-country was unaffected. The university self-reported the infractions to the NCAA in 2011 and 2012 and instituted some self-penalties at the time.
“These infractions are the result of university errors, not any wrongdoing by student-athletes,” said UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers. “Our student-athletes are high academic achievers who display integrity in their sport.”
The issues that prompted the infractions deal with student-athletes’ eligibility in four areas: transfer credit requirements, eligibility of pre-majors, declaration of majors and progress toward degree.
In general, to be eligible to compete, student-athletes must be enrolled in a baccalaureate degree program, take at least 12 credits each semester toward their degree, earn at least a 2.0 GPA and be making progress toward their degree of record. The infractions happened when the university failed to identify students who had not earned the required number of countable credits or who had informally switched majors but not filed the appropriate forms to do so officially. In addition, some students were admitted to UAF as “pre-majors,” which isn’t a baccalaureate program under NCAA rules.
The university first reported the infractions to the NCAA in June of 2011 and then made additional reports of infractions in November of 2012. Since then, the university has made major changes in the way it certifies student-athletes and the resources dedicated to those efforts. In the past, that responsibility fell only to the compliance coordinator. Today, a team of trained professionals in athletics, advising, admissions and the registrar’s office collaborate to ensure that student-athletes are taking the courses they need to earn their degrees and remain academically eligible.
“Clearly we needed, and now have, a well-defined, supportive compliance and advising system,” Rogers said. “I am proud of our Alaska Nanooks and sorry that our university let them down. Our students—and student-athletes—deserve the best. Discovering this issue has allowed us to become a better university and a better athletics program.”
The NCAA imposed the sanctions after a hearing in mid-September. The sanctions include some of the self-imposed sanctions the university instituted after discovering and self-reporting infractions in 2011. Those self-imposed sanctions included increased reporting to the NCAA and the temporary suspension of nine scholarships in five sports over three years.
NOTE TO EDITORS: A summary of the infractions, corrective actions and penalties is available online at http://bit.ly/ncaa_nanooks or by contacting Grimes.