In two days Boise State will go in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis. The NCAA has claimed that Boise State committed major violations in women’s tennis and secondary violations in men’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field and a few others in football. Among the charges is a claim by the NCAA that there is "a lack of institutional control" within the Broncos’ athletic program.
“We are deeply committed to following all NCAA rules and to ensuring that our athletic department works diligently so that our procedures reflect the highest standard,” BSU President Bob Kustra said in a statement in response to the allegations. “I am disappointed that we face these allegations. It is unacceptable, and the athletic department staff understand and agree with my position.”
The NCAA investigation confirms what the Boise State had previously admitted to following its own internal investigation: that while there were infractions in the tennis programs, there were minor charges to be answered to in the track and field programs. The Bronco's football program had committed several secondary violations as well over a five year period from 2005 to 2009. It is alleged that the school spent $4,934 on housing, transportation or meals, where an incoming student-athlete was provided a place to sleep which was often a couch or floor, a car ride, or was provided free food by an existing student-athlete. Under NCAA rules that amounts to what could be construed as free room and board for incoming student-athletes.
These violations came to light during an internal investigation in March 2009 that had been requested by the NCAA. In May 2010, Boise State sent the results of that investigation and also self-reported some undiscovered secondary infractions. The university itself, the NCAA and the individuals involved in the problems all agreed on the violations.
So if Boise State investigated itself, took action to rectify the problems, and reported the infractions to the NCAA, how did it get to this point?
Following the disclosure of violations, the university officials moved quickly to make changes to the way it does things by adding more personnel to its compliance department. All the services that were provided to the students were reimbursed by the student-athletes and ranged from $2.34 to a maximum of $417.55. Other punitive measures were also taken by updating policies in its athletics manuals, adding additional staff training on the rules, improving compliance documentation, and transferring the oversight and compliance responsibility from the athletic department to the president's office.
However, in October 2010 another more serious violation in women’s tennis occurred while all this was being implemented. That led Boise State to remove those coaches in November and the NCAA was immediately notified. But as a result of the new violation, the NCAA decided that the entire case would have to be brought to the Committee on Infractions for a hearing.
That will be this Friday, June 10. And even that won't put an end to it. It could take several months before the university hears back from the committee. Months of worry and nagging doubt. Months of distractions both on and off the field.
The university has offered other self-imposed penalties that effect the football program, the mens and womens tennis programs, and the track and field programs. Those penalties include losses of scholarships, the loss of practice time, recruiting restrictions, the forfeiture of wins from the 2008-09 women's tennis program, and the payment of a $5,000 fine. The university has also proposed three years of NCAA probation for the Boise State athletic department.
The question on everyone's mind is that even though the Boise State violations pale in comparison of those committed by USC and Ohio State, coming on the heels of those hearings will the firings of the two tennis coaches and the other punitive measures taken by Boise State be enough to satisfy the NCAA or will they be looking for a smaller program to make example out of?