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University of Nebraska cited for impermissible benefits

University of Nebraska, Lincoln, committed major violations in its athletics programs, according to findings by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. The violations, which included a failure to monitor, were narrow in scope and centered on student-athletes in all sports receiving impermissible benefits for multiple academic years. Penalties included two years probation and self-imposed $38,000 fine, which was donated to local charities.

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.

Rules regarding how athletics scholarships are awarded and utilized are currently under review by the Collegiate Model - Rules Working Group created in August following the presidential retreat of more than 50 Division I presidents.  The charge of this group is to review NCAA rules to ensure they are meaningful, enforceable and contribute to students' success.

The NCAA and its members have recognized that the current regulatory culture includes too many rules. NCAA President Mark Emmert and members have recognized that numerous rules, such as those stating athletic scholarships can be used to purchase mandatory but not "recommended" textbooks, are overly prescriptive and do not support our values.

Rather than regulate through a "one size fits all" method, this new approach will be principle-based and built on the desired outcomes in college sports. The Working Group is in the process of soliciting feedback from the membership regarding its direction and early recommendations. While the process is ongoing, the potential recommendation for athletics scholarships could provide greater flexibility to member schools.

The violations in the case were discovered and reported by the school. According to the facts of the case, 492 student-athletes received supplemental books and supplies totaling approximately $28,000 beyond what are allowed by NCAA rules for financial aid. The rules, which are created by NCAA member schools, state that athletic scholarships can only pay for required texts and course supplies. Individual student-athletes received a benefit ranging from approximately $580 to incidental amounts.

Because the violations included a large number of student-athletes and sports over portions of five academic years, the university agreed it failed to monitor its program, particularly as it relates to this aspect of athletic scholarships.

The penalties include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Two years of probation from February 1, 2012, through January 31, 2014.
  • Fine of $38,000 provided to local charities (self-imposed by the university).

The members of the Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and chair of the Committee on Infractions. Other members are; John S. Black, attorney; Melissa (Missy) Conboy, deputy director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative for University of Oregon; Gregory Sankey, associate commissioner of the Southeastern Conference; and Dennis Thomas, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.


Public Infractions Report

Read the University of Nebraska, Lincoln Public Infractions Report here.