The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Nebraska, Lincoln (“Nebraska”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The violations were narrow in scope and centered on Nebraska student-athletes who received scholarships that included books. Nebraska’s bookstore provided student-athletes on aid with recommended textbooks and course supplies when NCAA legislation only allows student-athletes to receive required textbooks and course supplies. The receipt of impermissible textbooks and course supplies resulted in violations of NCAA financial aid and extra benefit legislation. Because these violations occurred over a lengthy period of time, portions of five academic years, and involved student-athletes in every sport, Nebraska agreed that it failed to monitor this aspect of its athletics financial aid program.
After the investigation concluded the case was submitted to the Committee through the summary disposition process, which is an alternative to a formal hearing before the Committee that may be utilized when the NCAA enforcement staff, the member institution, and involved individuals agree to the facts of an infractions case and that those facts constitute major violations of NCAA legislation.
The Committee found that Nebraska committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Impermissible benefits in violation of NCAA Bylaws 15.2.3 and 16.02.3
From the spring of 2007 through the fall of 2010, Nebraska’s bookstore staff provided student-athletes on book scholarships with recommended books and, on occasion, course supplies instead of required-only texts and course supplies, which resulted in the student-athletes receiving impermissible textbooks and course supplies that also constituted extra benefits. The initial total amount of the extra benefit received by the student-athletes was $38,405.51. After the “buy back” of the used books, the value of the benefit was reduced to $27,869.47.
On November 29, 2010, the assistant director of compliance learned that the bookstore staff was providing, on a cost-free basis, recommended books to student-athletes on book scholarships in addition to required textbooks, which is a violation of NCAA legislation. The subsequent inquiry revealed that during the period from the spring of 2007 through the fall of 2010, 492 student-athletes in all 19 sports sponsored by Nebraska received impermissible textbooks, course supplies and extra benefits totaling $38,405.51 ($27,869.47 after the buy back). The value of the benefits received by individual student-athletes ranged from incidental amounts to $582.52, an amount which accrued over a period of seven semesters.
2. Failure to monitor in violation of NCAA Constitution 2.8.1
Nebraska did not discover that student-athletes received recommended books in addition to required-only books prior to Nebraska’s investigation because it did not routinely monitor or review the bookstore process and records of distribution of books to student-athletes on book scholarships. Nebraska’s system assured that only student-athletes on book scholarship were able to obtain textbooks and course supplies from the bookstore, but did not insure that student-athletes would not receive recommended textbooks in violation of NCAA Bylaw 15.2.3. Each semester, the bookstore provided the compliance office with a report containing a list of student-athletes on book scholarships along with their sport, books purchased, date of purchase, and purchase price. However, the compliance staff failed to routinely monitor and review the bookstore procedure and records of distribution to verify that only required textbooks were obtained. Further, over the time the violations were committed, Nebraska did not educate the bookstore staff or student-athletes that the NCAA book scholarship only covered required textbooks and course supplies.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized Nebraska as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. Two years of probation from November 1, 2012 through January 31, 2014.
3. Nebraska self-imposed a fine of $38,000.00, which was donated to local charities.