From 2008-09 through 2012-13, Denison University awarded 24 student-athletes impermissible financial aid when it considered athletics participation when determining financial aid packages, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. The university offered prospects an application process that allowed the prospect to submit information that considered, among other things, athletics participation in place of a standardized test score in order to gain admission. Because of this, the committee determined that Denison failed to monitor its financial aid process and failed to educate its admissions and financial aid personnel.
Penalties in this case, including those self-imposed by the university, include two years of probation, a review of the financial aid process during each year of probation and a vacation of participation in NCAA championships in three sports, administrative and reporting requirements.
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 school must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having a formal hearing.
Over five academic years, when applying to the university, a prospect could choose to submit subjective information that was then entered into a form by the admissions staff in place of a standardized test score. The form detailed the prospect’s subjective information ranging from extracurricular activities to interest level in the university, and ultimately produced a rating. A prospect’s high school athletics participation could add points to the rating. The university used the total form numbers for admission purposes and the formation of financial aid packages without removing the athletics component. As a result, the university considered athletics components when determining financial aid packages for student-athletes who used the alternative application process.
The university failed to monitor the composition of financial aid package when it used the athletics components from the admissions ratings and to determine the packages. Additionally, Denison did not educate its admissions and financial aid personal. While athletics personnel at Denison received rules education and knew that using the form to determine financial aid was against NCAA rules, non-athletics personnel did not receive the same education.
The penalties include:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Two years of probation from June 19, 2014 through June 18, 2016.
- A vacation of the university’s NCAA championship participation in men’s lacrosse, women’s basketball and softball.
- Request a Level Two review from the NCAA Committee on Financial Aid during each probationary year. During this review, the committee looks closely at a school’s policies and procedures for awarding aid, as well as the impact of those factors on aid received by student-athletes (self-imposed by the university).
The members of the Division III Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Dave Cecil, chair and associate vice president of financial aid at Transylvania University; Amy Hackett, director of athletics at University of Puget Sound; Keith Jacques, partner at Woodman, Edmands, Danylik, Austin, Smith and Jacques; and Nancy Meyer, director of women’s athletics at Calvin College.