Stephen F. Austin University was notified of postseason bans for three men’s sports last week, and then notified of additional sanctions later, including forfeiture of wins – one of them a big one, in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Level I (mitigated) sanctions agreed upon by the NCAA and SFA include the following:
■ Three years of probation;
■ Public reprimand and censure;
■ A fine of $5,000 plus one-half of one percent of the total budgets for football and men’s basketball;
■ The return of 50 percent of the university’s financial share earned from participation in the 2016 NCAA Tournament;
■ The forfeiture of all records and contests in which an ineligible SFA student-athlete competed, which includes 29 football victories from 2013-2019; 117 men’s basketball victories from 2014 to 2019; 112 baseball victories from 2015 to 2019; 31 softball victories from the 2018 season; and adjusted conference championship scores from women’s golf, women’s track and field, men’s cross country and men’s track and field.
Included in the vacation of wins are conference championships in men’s basketball in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2017-18, as well as the program’s first-round win in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The banners recognizing those achievements will be removed from William R. Johnson Coliseum.
■ A 2.5% reduction in financial aid awards (scholarships) in football for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022; a 5% reduction in baseball in either 2020-21 or 2021-2022 and the loss of one scholarship in men’s basketball in either 2020-2021 or 2021-22.
SFA athletic director Ryan Ivey issued a letter on Wednesday that stated the following:
“Today, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), publicly announced a Negotiated Resolution agreement with Stephen F. Austin regarding several NCAA rules infractions concerning student eligibility that occurred from 2013-2019.
“The primary issue was that former department personnel responsible for the certification process were incorrectly counting all semester credit hours to determine academic eligibility instead of counting only degree-applicable credits, as prescribed by NCAA rules.
“This error--and other similar errors — resulted in 82 student-athletes being improperly certified for competition over a period of six years, from 2013 to 2019, meaning 82 student-athletes competed while ineligible for SFA in the sports of football, men’s basketball, baseball, volleyball, softball, women’s golf, men’s and women’s track and field and men’s cross country.
“Shortly after the discovery of the issue, the university retained outside legal counsel to work with the institution and the NCAA to determine the facts and scope of the potential violations. Once that review was completed, SFA and the NCAA staff came to an agreement on sanctions through a Negotiated Resolution.
“Ultimately, the institution and the NCAA agreed that the improper certification of 82 student-athletes for competition was a Level I violation.”
“The university also acknowledged that it failed to exercise institution control when it did not detect or remedy the errors in a timely manner, given that in 2014, the NCAA had warned the institution through a standard review of academic progress data to strengthen its academic certification processes and it failed to do so.
“Our actions since the discovery demonstrate our unwavering commitment to integrity and our willingness to hold ourselves accountable.”