By Ken Reed
The NCAA slapped little ol’ Cal Poly — a university known much more for its academic prowess than for any success in its athletic department — with heavy sanctions last week for unintentionally overpaying stipends to athletes for textbooks.
Cal Poly officials caught the administrative error and self-reported it to the NCAA. Apparently, a group of 72 athletes (out of 265) received more money than they should’ve for books and course-related supplies. The total amount of extra funds provided to the 72 students was a paltry $16,180 over nearly a three-year period, an average of $224.72 per athlete. (Cal Poly contends that only 30 athletes received an overpayment, for a total of $5,237.10, or an average of $174.57 per athlete).
In making their ruling, the NCAA said it was clearly an unintentional mistake but they also said “Cal Poly simply failed to abide by this rule.”
The result is Cal Poly could forfeit wins in all sports for a three-and-a-half-year period (including possibly the school’s only NCAA men’s basketball tournament appearance) and face two years of probation moving forward.
“Cal Poly has cooperated in every way with the NCAA throughout this process that began in 2015,” Cal Poly Athletic Director Don Oberhelman said in the statement. “There was never an intent to violate NCAA rules, and when we discovered the issue, we self-reported it to the NCAA.”
This latest strange action by the NCAA calls to mind the classic John McEnroe response: “You cannot be serious!”
Schools from the so-called “Power Five” conferences do things that are much more egregious (see North Carolina’s academic fraud for but one example) and they get a minor slap on the wrist or nothing at all.
“If we really think this was done to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace where Cal Poly was trying to distance itself from its competitors, I don’t believe that’s true,” said basketball analyst Jay Bilas.
… You have North Carolina, and they get nothing. And then Cal Poly is going to vacate every game they’ve played in three and half years? That’s ridiculous. It doesn’t remedy the situation. It doesn’t serve as a deterrent. It doesn’t send a message to other schools. It’s absurd.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
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Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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