Division III Ursinus College has been sanctioned by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions for improperly awarding financial aid based on athletics participation. The total deemed improper by the NCAA amounts to $335,300 to 64 student-athletes across 17 sports, including the swimming & diving teams.
This comes 2 months after Ursinus announced that it was cancelling the remainder of its 2019-2020 swimming season following violations of the college’s anti-hazing policy and student code of conduct.
Per the NCAA report:
The financial aid violations stemmed from the former vice president’s strategy to increase enrollment by identifying prospective students who were most likely to enroll at Ursinus and awarding them additional need-based financial aid based on characteristics that included diversity, academics and athletics participation. In doing so, the former vice president and his staff impermissibly considered coaches’ athletics ratings of prospects, among other criteria. He also communicated with coaches to solicit information about prospects, including the amount of financial aid necessary to gain their enrollment. As a result of these actions, during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years, Ursinus awarded financial aid totaling 335,300 to 64 studentathletes across 17 sport programs in a manner contrary to NCAA bylaws. The financial aid violations are major.
The NCAA tagged on a “lack of institutional control” rider due to inadequate rules education to admissions and financial aid personnel and failure to detect the violations.
As compared to Division I and Division II athletics in the NCAA, Division III does not offer athletic scholarships. Athletes are allowed to receive other forms of merit or need-based financial aid, but athletics participation is not supposed to be considered in that awarding. The NCAA says that 75% of Division III student-athletes receive some form of financial aid.
4 women’s swimming athletes, who were awarded a total of $8,800, and 1 male swimming athlete, who was awarded $12,000, were found to have been given aid ‘inconsistent with NCAA bylaws.” Ultimately, once athletics were removed from consideration, $13,482* of the financial aid across all sports was deemed to be impermissible; none of that impermissible money was found in swimming.
|Sport||Number of Student Athletes||Total Amount Awarded Inconsistent with NCAA Bylaws||
Total Amount of Impermissible Financial Aid
|Women’s Cross Country||1||$4,000||$0|
|Men’s Cross Country||1||$2,000||$0|
*The numbers in the table add up to $13,572, though the NCAA lists a total of $13,482 in impermissible aid. We have reached out to ask them about the discrepancy.
The violations were first revealed in September 2018 when the director of student financial services reported to Ursinus’ human resources department that the dean of enrollment management was “not managing the financial aid process in accordance with NCAA legislation.” Ursinus retained outside counsel to investigate and enforcement staff was notified of ‘potential violations’ on September 19, 2018. The dean of enrollment management (a vice president at the school) resigned the same day.
Ursinus College agreed to the facts and violations and the institution agreed to all penalties.
Ursinus College Penalties for NCAA Violations
- Public reprimand and censure
- Probation: 2 years of probation from January 28, 2020 to January 27, 2022. During this period, Ursinus will have to undergo additional program development and reporting requirements and inform all prospective student-athletes in writing that the institution is on probation, and detail the violations committed.
- Vacation of team and individual records and results in men’s lacrosse, where one student-athlete competed while ineligible after receiving impermissible financial aid.
- Self-imposed $2,500 fine
- The institution shall request a Level II review during the probation period and shall abide by any recommendations made by the reviewer (Self-imposed)
- The institution engaged a third-party consulting firm to review its policies and procedures related to financial aid and provide recommendations regarding best practices (Self-imposed)
- The school shall require representatives to attend each of the 2020 and 2021 NCAA Regional Rules Seminars
- The president of the institution will have to provide a letter to the committee on infractions ‘affirming that the institution’s current athletics policies and practices conform to all requirements of NCAA regulations.”
The Ursinus College women’s swimming & diving team finished 17th at last year’s NCAA Championship meet with 75 points and were the 2019 Centennial Conference Champions; the men’s team finished 4th at last year’s Centennial Conference Championship meet.