PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The NCAA announced today that Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey was involved in an infractions case involving eligibility violations that occurred prior to the 2001-02 academic year. The university self-reported these violations to the NCAA, whose enforcement staff noted that Rutgers’ “handling of this serious matter is a model for other institutions involved in self-reporting major violations.”
The university began a review of its eligibility certification process in September 2000, which culminated with Rutgers reporting violations to the NCAA in April 2002. Throughout and as a result of its review, the university took corrective actions, including implementing a new certification process for the 2001-02 academic year.
At a press conference today at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick said, “Soon after I became president of Rutgers University in December 2002, I outlined four goals for the university’s athletics program. High among these goals is integrity of the program and all those connected with it. These violations, which occurred over several years prior to February 2001, are extremely serious and are inconsistent with this goal. It is simply unacceptable that these violations occurred at all. However, the manner in which the violations were identified, reported and corrected reflects the commitment to integrity by the program’s present leadership.”
The violations involved the improper certification of eligibility of student-athletes and resulted from misapplications or misunderstandings of NCAA rules by individuals involved in the certification process along with an eligibility system that was not adequate to handle the complexities of NCAA rules. Among the violations were participation prior to initial eligibility certification, failing to designate a degree program at the proper time, and failing to complete the required number of degree credits prior to competition in a particular year. The violations were randomly dispersed and occurred in 15 sports.
“The errors that occurred were errors of omission,” said Robert E. Mulcahy III, Rutgers Director of Athletics. “There was no academic fraud; there was no purposeful miscertification of student-athletes for personal or competitive gain.”
Rutgers’ new eligibility system involves a certification team, which includes representatives from athletics, academic support services for student-athletes and the registrar’s office. Representatives of the university’s academic community also participate in the certification process. Prior to any practice or competition, each head coach receives a team roster including each student-athlete’s eligibility status. Coaches must abide by these eligibility decisions.
Mulcahy also noted that there were a number of staffing and structural changes, including the creation of a director of student-athlete certification position. This position is part of the Registrar’s Office and renders all final academic eligibility certification decisions. This position works very closely with staff members from athletics, academic support services for student-athletes and the university’s academic community.
In addition, the university reorganized its academic support services, changing its reporting structure from the athletics department to the office of academic affairs. It also reorganized and expanded the athletics compliance staff.
Along with detailing the findings of the investigation in its report, the university had to conclude whether the violations should be considered secondary or major. It is important to note that when taken individually, each violation would likely have been deemed secondary. However, the university concluded, and the NCAA agreed, that when taken as a whole, the situation represented a major violation of NCAA rules. As a result, the university imposed penalties to reflect that determination.
The NCAA agreed with the findings in Rutgers’ report and also found that the university was in violation of the NCAA’s principle of institutional control.
The penalties resulting from these violations are:
- A two-year period of probation, which began with the submission of the self-report on April 1, 2002, and which requires an annual report detailing compliance efforts;
- A reduction in scholarships as follows:
- Baseball: 1
- Men’s Basketball: 1
- Field Hockey: 1
- Football: 4
- Men's Golf: 2
- Men's Lacrosse: 4
- Men's Soccer: 4
- Softball: 1
- Women's Tennis: 1
- Men's Track: 1
- Institutional recertification.
“By addressing the problem forthrightly, Bob Mulcahy and his team vastly improved our system for monitoring and certifying eligibility in compliance with NCAA regulations,” said McCormick. “Bob and I share the same four goals for the university’s entire athletics program. They are to ensure the academic success of our student-athletes; to have a program of unquestioned integrity; to move the program toward budgetary self-sufficiency; and to be athletically successful on the field. I am confident that Rutgers is on its way toward meeting these goals.”
“My department and this institution took the right steps in identifying the problem, investigating the problem and rectifying the problem,” said Mulcahy. “I commend the efforts of each and every person in my department and on this campus who assisted us throughout this process.”
Mulcahy added, “In the long run, discovering this problem when we did, and taking the actions we took, has greatly benefited this department. We did the right thing, and we are now better positioned for success, in all areas, than we ever have been.”