NCAA Strips Pepperdine University’s West Coast Conference Championships

Pepperdine University failed to monitor its athletics program, according to findings by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. This case involved violations in five sports, including incorrect eligibility certifications of transfer student-athletes and non-athletic scholarships awarded to student-athletes without applying the aid to the total number of athletics scholarships allowed. Penalties in this case include three years of probation, a vacation of athletics records and scholarship limitations.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and involved individuals must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be utilized instead of having a formal hearing.

The committee noted that it is the duty of every NCAA member to devote the resources necessary to put in place a thorough and comprehensive campus-wide compliance system operated by trained staff members, and in this case, the university failed to do so. According to the findings, the university failed to: monitor its athletics program from the 2005-06 through 2010-11 academic years by misapplying progress-toward-degree rules for transfer student athletes; seek reinstatement for an ineligible student-athlete; comply with the maximum number of allowable scholarships; maintain squad lists; document exempt non-athletics scholarships; and execute a certificate of compliance.

Twenty-two transfer student-athletes were incorrectly certified as eligible for competition between 2005-06 and 2009-10 academic years because of an inadequate compliance effort at the university. Due to an oversight, the university later did not seek reinstatement for one of the transfer student-athletes before allowing him to resume competing. The committee noted that the entire responsibility for eligibility certification of student-athletes rested with the faculty athletics representative (FAR), who inherited the duties from a former FAR who used an outdated formula that did not account for all requirements.

From 2007-08, the university’s financial aid office “prioritized” students demonstrating particular gifts or talents when awarding non-athletic scholarships. Athletics participation was one of the factors considered to be a gift or talent, so the scholarships awarded should have been, but were not, counted toward team scholarship totals.

An outside audit of the university’s athletics program concluded that the university did not devote sufficient manpower to the compliance effort or to educate those involved in applying NCAA rules. The audit recommended strengthening its policies regarding financial aid and rules education. The committee noted the university has started to address the deficiencies and has made significant changes.

The penalties include:

Public reprimand and censure.
Three years of probation from July 3, 2012 through July 2, 2015.
Vacation of all wins and team accomplishments earned during the 2007-08 through 2010-11 academic years for the sports of baseball (including an appearance in the NCAA championship in 2008); men’s tennis (including West Coast Conference Championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010, as well as appearances in the NCAA championship in 2008, 2009 and 2010); and men’s volleyball (including a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament Championship in 2008 and an appearance in the NCAA championship in 2008). Details of the vacation can be found in the public report. (Self-imposed by the university)
Reduction of scholarships for the following sports during the 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years: (Self-imposed by the university)
Baseball: 25 percent scholarship reduction per year (equal to 2.48 scholarships)
Men’s tennis: 25 percent scholarship reduction per year (equal to 1.13 scholarships)
Men’s volleyball: 25 percent scholarship reduction per year (equal to 1.13 scholarships)
Men’s water polo: 25 percent scholarship reduction per year (equal to 1.13 scholarships)
Women’s soccer: Reduction of .88 scholarships per year
The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Melissa (Missy) Conboy, acting chair of the Committee on Infractions and deputy director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame; Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., attorney; John Black, attorney; Greg Sankey, associate commissioner of compliance for the Southeastern Conference; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; James O’Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; and Christopher L. Griffin, attorney.