Cal Poly Athletics failed to monitor its book scholarship program from the 2012-13 year to Fall 2015, as announced by the NCAA Thursday, April 18. As a result, records broken by student-athletes that received improper stipends will be vacated and no longer considered an official record holder.
According to the NCAA, Cal Poly Athletics provided student-athletes with an $800 stipend for course books, which did not total to the actual cost of course books. In total, 72 student-athletes across 18 of Cal Poly’s 22 athletics programs received an average of $225 in extra stipends. The smallest of these overages was $5. The largest was $734.
“Cal Poly has cooperated in every way with the NCAA throughout this process that began in 2015,” Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman said in a press release. “There was never an intent to violate NCAA rules, and when we discovered the issue, we self reported it to the NCAA.”
According to Cal Poly Athletics’ statement, the NCAA reversed a previous decision that allowed for student-athletes to receive book stipends in the way Cal Poly had used in October 2015. Cal Poly immediately contacted the NCAA after learning about the reversal.
The NCAA’s investigation reveals that student-athletes also misused funds from the book stipends for non-course related materials. This includes food, rent, utilities and auto repairs.
Cal Poly Athletics faces a two-year probation, in which the Athletics Department will be required to create a compliance and education program dealing with NCAA legislation. Cal Poly is also required to send in yearly reports to the NCAA detailing their education efforts. The NCAA also requires that all prospective athletes be informed of Cal Poly’s probation and their infractions.
Another infraction from the NCAA is the vacating of all records in which ineligible student-athletes and coaches participated in events. This includes all wins, post-season appearances and trophies in which ineligible Mustangs participated in.
In addition, any record broken by student-athletes who were found to have received improper stipends will be vacated and no longer considered to be an official record holder. Cal Poly Athletics is required to report which student-athletes are deemed ineligible within 45 days of today’s decision for accurate representation in NCAA record books.
While Cal Poly Athletics acknowledged their wrongdoing in this instance, they disputed the severity of the financial aid violations. Cal Poly Athletics said these violations were Level III violations instead of Level II violations. They added that, as a result, vacating records should not apply in this instance. The NCAA disagreed, as they pointed out that the extent and length in which these violations took place do not make this situation an isolated incident.
Cal Poly also paid a self-imposed $5,000 fine to the NCAA.
“Cal Poly promotes an atmosphere of compliance, and has in place strong monitoring and educational practices,” Oberhelman said. “This high level of commitment is what led to the discovery of the error. It was an inadvertent error that was isolated in the area of textbooks and, in every case of any actual over‐ award, there was no advantage gained.”
Cal Poly Athletics declined request for an interview.