The NCAA’s hammer fell rather lightly on Washington State on Tuesday when the main governing body of college athletics extended the school’s probation for two more years through June 20, 1997, and took away a couple of football scholarships the Cougars weren’t using anyway.
WSU’s penalties, which also included a public reprimand and censure, along with orders to continue cleaning up its eligibility certification act, were handed down in connection with a series of NCAA rules violations that occurred between 1991 and 1994.
Those infractions included the use of ineligible players in football and baseball, the failure to properly report such violations and a general lack of institutional control over the eligibility certifications process.
The NCAA’s sanctions, with the exception of the reduction in football scholarships, nearly paralleled those handed down last June by the Pacific-10 Conference.
According to the NCAA’s investigation report, WSU self-reported the infractions to the Pac-10 after former men’s track coach John Chaplin notified the school’s legal counsel that the football team had used an ineligible player.
The NCAA’s ruling cuts the number of initial football scholarships that can be granted during the 1995-96 academic year to 23 instead of the normal 25 and reduces the number of players that can be on scholarship next fall to 83 instead of 85.
WSU athletic director Rick Dickson admitted he was mildly surprised by the hit the football program took, but he said the oneyear scholarship reduction should have no major impact, considering the Cougars have signed only 21 recruits for next fall.
“But this reinforces the importance of compliance within in the university,” he added. “No student-athlete or football coach had anything whatsoever to do with the certification problem. We did have a crack in the department’s certification process and that has been solved and restructured.” The NCAA found WSU guilty of using
ineligible football players on two occasions.
The first came in the fall of 1991 when a player was certified for competition under a missed term waiver, even though he had actually enrolled in class for a short time during the semester in question and was therefore not eligible for such a waiver.
The second violation occurred in 1992, when a student-athlete played in eight games despite being one credit short of the NCAA minimum to show satisfactory progress toward a degree.
Neither the NCAA nor WSU officials would name the players, but Dickson said neither was a key player. “At best, one was a part-time special-teams player,” he said.
The outcomes of the games in which they were involved will stand.