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Associate Director of Public and Media Relations
The University of New England was cited for failing to monitor its financial aid process, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. The university awarded financial aid packages during two academic years to student-athletes in a pattern clearly distinguishable from what was provided to all students at the university. Penalties in this case include two years of probation, a suspension for the director of athletics and forfeiture of the financial aid in question.
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, university and involved individuals must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be utilized instead of having a formal hearing.
Violations involved a university Diversity Scholarship, which was intended to be awarded to applicants who demonstrated the ability to contribute to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the university community. Instead, the university awarded the Diversity Scholarship in larger dollar amounts to some student-athletes in comparison to the student body. In 2008-09, student-athletes comprised of 34 percent of the students receiving Diversity Scholarship funds, but were awarded 43 percent of the funds. On average, student-athletes received $2,039 more than students who did not participate in athletics. During the 2009-10 academic year student-athletes, comprising 27 percent of the total awardees, received 42 percent of the total funds awarded. While American awardees were limited to no more than $6,000, three international student-athletes received $12,000 while one was awarded $13,000, one received $17,000 and one received $20,500. Because the percentages were not closely equivalent to the amount of student-athletes within the general student body, the school’s awards were in violation of Division III rules.
The university failed to monitor the admissions personnel involved in the determination of financial aid awards by failing to educate them regarding NCAA financial aid rules, according to the committee’s findings. Further, the university failed to monitor athletics staff members who engaged in inappropriate communications with personnel involved in financial aid decisions. The committee noted that the violations of Division III financial aid rules were unintentional, however, members of the admissions, financial aid and athletics departments lacked an adequate understanding of the financial aid rules.
The penalties include:
The members of the Division III Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Dave Cecil, director of financial aid at Transylvania State; Amy Elizabeth Hackett, director of athletics at University of Puget Sound; Nancy Meyer, director of women’s athletics at Calvin College; and Garnett Purnell, athletics director at Wittenburg University.