You are here

Elmhurst lacked institutional control

Download the October 2017 Elmhurst Public Infractions Decision

Elmhurst did not monitor its athletics program and its director of financial aid acted unethically when she awarded scholarships based on athletics criteria to student-athletes, resulting in a lack of institutional control, according to a decision by the Division III Committee on Infractions.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff and school must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having an in-person hearing. Because the penalties are agreed upon by the school and involved individuals, there is not an opportunity to appeal the penalties.

Over the course of four academic years, the director of financial aid awarded scholarships partially based on athletics to 26 student-athletes across 10 sports on 42 occasions. Division III rules do not allow schools to provide scholarships to student-athletes or teams in a manner that is distinguishable from the general student body.

Elmhurst established two scholarships in 2013 and 2014 that included athletics participation as a requirement, though the school was aware that athletics could not be included in specific scholarship criteria. The first scholarship was earmarked for student-athletes studying to work in medical fields, and the second was intended to include football student-athletes. Furthermore, in 2014, the NCAA Financial Aid Committee sent a notification to the school that a third scholarship, which considered athletics when awarding scholarships to wrestling students, was not allowed. The school took no action.

Elmhurst did not provide rules education to staff in the financial aid or development departments, which contributed to violations. The financial aid director never received formal rules education, and instead developed her knowledge of Division III rules through her work with the NCAA Financial Aid Committee and through occasional interactions with NCAA staff. The director of financial aid also said she felt pressured by development staff to comply with donors’ wishes in awarding competitive financial aid packages, though she did not report the perceived pressure to her supervisor and was the sole decision-maker in awarding scholarships that constituted violations.

The director of financial aid was aware of Division III financial rules and she acted unethically when she knowingly violated those rules to award scholarships to student-athletes exclusively.

A combination of a lack of rules education, failure to establish mechanisms to detect potential violations, and disregard of the Financial Aid Committee’s 2014 written warning led to the Committee on Infractions’ determination that Elmhurst lacked institutional control.

The penalties include:

  • Public reprimand and censure for the university.
  • Two years of probation (Oct. 27, 2017, through Oct. 26, 2019).
  • Elmhurst must pay a $2,500 fine.
  • Continued education through attendance at NCAA Regional Rules Seminars.
  • A one-year show cause for the director of financial aid.
  • A vacation of wins in which ineligible student-athletes competed.
  • A postseason ban for current teams with rosters including ineligible student-athletes.

The members of the Division III Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case are Christopher Bledsoe, athletics director at New York University; Effel Harper, an associate professor and faculty athletics representative at Mary Hardin-Baylor; Tracey Hathaway, associate director of athletics for compliance and student-athlete welfare at Massachusetts Boston; Gerald Houlihan, attorney in private practice and committee chair; and Gerald Young, athletics director of Carleton.