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Cal Poly athletics faces two years of probation for misusing NCAA book stipends

Posted at 1:00 PM, Apr 18, 2019

Cal Poly Athletics faces two years of probation after the NCAA says the program violated its book scholarship program.

The university says it self-reported to the NCAA in August of 2017 after realizing they overpaid some student-athletes for their textbooks.

Now, the NCAA says the university failed to monitor those cash stipends.

According to the Division I Committee on Infractions panel, Cal Poly gave 265 student-athletes across 18 sports an $800 book stipend that was more than the actual cost of books for 72 of those students.

Unlike room and board stipends, NCAA rules require book stipends to equal the exact cost of the books purchased per quarter.

The NCAA says the discrepancy took place from the 2012-13 school year through fall quarter of 2015. The remainder totaled $16,180.

The panel’s report states that some student-athletes used the leftover money to pay for unrelated items such as food, rent, utilities, and car repairs.

The members of the committee do not think the violation was intentional 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.”

In the report, Cal Poly agreed that it “misapplied” this rule.

The panel found that Cal Poly lacked a fundamental understanding and because the university was unaware it was in violation of the book scholarship program, “the institution did not have rules education programs or monitoring policies designed to ensure compliant administration of cash stipends for books.”

Cal Poly Athletics now faces penalties:

  • Two years of probation
  • A vacation of records from the regular season, conference tournament and postseason competition as well as individual records
  • Self-imposed fine of $5,000

Probation does not take away postseason eligibility for the duration of the probationary period.

The vacation of records may have the biggest impact however.

The Mustangs saw some of their greatest successes on the field and on the court from 2012-13 school year to fall quarter of 2015.

Baseball made it to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments after Big West titles and football won the Big Sky Conference title and made it to playoffs.

The women’s basketball won the 2013 Big West Tournament title and made it to the NCAA Tournament.

The men’s basketball team’s only Big West Tournament title and first NCAA Tournament win (2014) also falls within the violation time frame.

If ineligible players were on these teams during that time, it is possible those wins could be surrendered, but Cal Poly Athletics has not yet confirmed that.

Cal Poly released a statement following the news.

“Cal Poly has cooperated in every way with the NCAA throughout this process that began in 2015,” said  Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman. “There was never an intent to violate NCAA rules, and when we discovered the issue, we self-reported it to the NCAA. Cal Poly promotes an atmosphere of compliance and has in place strong monitoring and educational practices. This high level of commitment is what led to the discovery of the error. It was an inadvertent error that was isolated in the area of textbooks and, in every case of any actual over award, there was no advantage gained.”

Cal Poly maintains that only 30 student‐athletes were over‐awarded an average of $174.57 each for books, amounting to a total of $5,237.10 over the 3.5‐year period.

The university has 45 days to inform the NCAA Media Coordination and Statistics office of the student-athletes involved.

You can read the full NCAA report here.