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Cal Poly did not monitor its book scholarship program

Downlod the April 2019 California Polytechnic State Univ. Public Infractions Decision

Listen to the press call:

Cal Poly did not monitor its book scholarship program to ensure the administration of stipends followed NCAA rules, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

The university provided 265 student-athletes in 18 sports an $800 stipend that was not equal to the actual cost of course-related books purchased, contrary to NCAA rules. The committee found that the stipend exceeded the actual cost of books for 72 student-athletes by a total of $16,180. The violations also caused 30 student-athletes to exceed their individual financial aid limits.

According to the panel’s decision, Cal Poly lacked a fundamental understanding of NCAA rules about book stipends, which the university characterized as “misapplying” the rule. The university mistakenly treated the book stipend in the same manner as room and board stipends, which are used by student-athletes as they see fit to cover off-campus living expenses. Instead, NCAA rules require book stipends equal the exact cost of the books required for coursework.

The committee did not believe the university broke the long-standing rule on purpose but said,  “There is no ambiguity in the wording of the legislation and thus no room for misinterpretation. Cal Poly simply failed to abide by this rule.”

Because the university was unaware it was violating NCAA rules, the committee said Cal Poly did not provide rules education about book scholarships to the athletics department, financial aid office and others. Cal Poly also did not have policies and procedures to monitor use of the book stipend, such as requiring receipts, to make sure that the stipend was used for its intended purpose.  

Although the university agreed to the facts of this violation, it believed that the violation was Level III and disagreed with the failure-to-monitor allegation. The committee determined that the violations are Level II because they occurred for 3½ years and involved 265 student-athletes. Additionally, the committee concluded that the totality of these circumstances demonstrated the university failed to monitor its book stipend program. 

The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A vacation of records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 45 days of the public decision release.
  • A fine of $5,000 (proposed by the university).

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice and former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Jason Leonard, executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma; Joyce McConnell, provost and vice president of academic affairs at West Virginia; Vincent Nicastro, chief hearing officer for the panel and deputy commissioner and chief operating officer for the Big East Conference; and Roderick Perry, athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.