NCAA: UMass provided impermissible financial aid in two sports, including men’s basketball

The NCAA released the findings today from their investigation in to the UMass Athletics Department. According to a release by the NCAA:

The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, impermissibly provided 12 student-athletes in men’s basketball and women’s tennis with financial aid that exceeded full cost of attendance, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions. 

In total, Massachusetts provided more than $9,100 in excess of full cost of attendance on 13 occasions over a three-year period. Four student-athletes received a higher housing rate after they moved to less-expensive off-campus housing, and eight continued to receive a fee associated with dorm phones after they moved to off-campus housing. One student-athlete received both. The additional aid resulted in those student-athletes competing while ineligible.

The committee said the violations occurred as a result of a former associate athletics director’s misunderstanding of financial aid rules and administrative error. 

Penalties include:

  • Two years of probation, from Oct. 16, 2020, through Oct. 15, 2022. 
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university). 
  • A vacation of records of contests in which student-athletes participated while ineligible

UMass has issued a response to the findings which read in part;

The University of Massachusetts strongly disagrees with the ruling and in support of its student-athletes will appeal the Committee’s decision to vacate wins.

“As an athletics department we accept that we made administrative mistakes in the distribution of athletic aid through our financial aid process,” said Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford. “However, we do not believe that the penalties imposed by the NCAA are appropriate, nor proportional to the violations that occurred. These were simply operational errors in our compliance systems that did not functionally detect payments above our cost of attendance. The errors occurred with no intent to gain a competitive or recruiting advantage, or to compromise the collegiate model. Our administrative and coaching staffs and student-athletes were completely unaware of the mistakes until we audited our records as part of the NCAA review. To vacate wins as a form of penalty – hurting our student-athletes who did nothing wrong – is an overreach by the infractions panel and is deeply disappointing.”

More from UMass HERE.

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