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Kalamazoo College failed to monitor financial aid

Download the Kalamazoo College Public Infractions Decision

Kalamazoo College failed to monitor its financial aid awards when it used a system that considered athletics participation when determining financial aid packages for student-athletes, according to a decision issued by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. In total, the financial aid packages of 567 student-athletes considered athletics leadership, ability and participation information. Division III members cannot award financial aid based on athletic performance.

Penalties in this case include three years of probation and a postseason ban for teams that continue to have student-athletes who are receiving financial aid based on athletics participation. If the college repackages the aid, the teams do not have to serve a ban.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff and the college must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be used instead of having a formal hearing. The panel reviewing the case held an expedited penalty hearing because the college did not agree with the postseason ban.

  The college did not ensure that appropriate monitoring policies and procedures were in place to prevent athletics participation from influencing the financial aid packaging process. For at least five years, the college used a matrix rating system that considered athletics participation in its admissions process, but did not exclude those ratings when determining the prospect’s financial aid package. The system also allowed the college’s coaches to submit rating sheets that included the athletics information.

The head baseball coach sent recruiting emails to nearly 30 prospects detailing the college’s financial aid process. In the emails, he told prospects that the college’s admissions office would increase merit-based financial aid upon his written recommendation. The school and coach said the email was meant to be informative, but acknowledged it could be interpreted as a written offer of aid. The committee noted that even if informational, the coach was motivated by recruiting and detailing the increase in merit-based financial aid based on a coach’s recommendation was considered an advantage.

The penalties include:                                                                                                         

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation from March 22, 2016, through March 21, 2019.
  • A postseason ban for all teams that continue to have student-athletes who are receiving financial aid based on athletics participation, effective immediately.
  • A Level II review from the NCAA Division III Financial Aid Committee during the first and third years of probation. The school must follow any recommendations made by the reviewer.
  • During each year of probation, at least one head coach and at least one member from the school’s admissions or financial aid staffs must attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar. The athletics director and head baseball coach attended a 2014 Regional Rules Seminar (self-imposed by the college). The head baseball coach and a senior athletics administrator must attend at least one additional NCAA Regional Rules Seminar during the probation period.
  • Monthly rules education sessions for the head baseball coach and his staff. During the sessions, the college must review the baseball program’s recruiting communications.

The members of the Division III Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case included Dave Cecil, associate vice president for financial aid at Transylvania University; Amy Hackett, committee chair and director of athletics at the University of Puget Sound; Tracey Hathaway, associate director of athletics for compliance and student-athlete welfare at the University of Massachusetts Boston; Gerald Houlihan, attorney in private practice; and Gerald Young, athletics director at Carleton College.