NCAA sanctions Cal Poly athletics with fines, may revoke past wins

Apr 18, 2019

This week, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) placed Cal Poly on probation for two years. The college athletics governing body said the university didn’t monitor its book scholarship program and will have to pay a fine, and possibly vacate wins.

In a 21-page report released Thursday, the NCAA said between 2012 and 2015 Cal Poly provided more than 250 student-athletes an $800 stipend that didn’t match cost of books, breaking NCAA rules. For 72 student-athletes, the amount totalled more than $16,000 dollars, and more than 30 student-athletes exceeded their financial aid limits.

Cal Poly officials said the excess was due to an accounting error and self-reported to the athletic authority. The NCAA said it doesn’t believe the university did it on purpose, but said, there “is no ambiguity,” in the long-standing rule and “no room for misinterpretation.”

Cal Poly will have to pay a fine of $5,000 dollars, which it proposed. But the athletics program will also have to vacate wins over the three-and-a-half-year period. The school has 45 days to get that list together, which will likely include a men's basketball team Big West Conference tournament win in 2014, and a NCAA tournament game that same year. Coaches won’t be able to count wins during this period as part of any milestones, and the university will have to return any trophies.

Cal Poly’s head of athletics, Bob Oberhelman, called the infraction a relatively minor rules violation, and in an email to the campus community, he said it wouldn't result in a loss of scholarships, "and no loss of post season eligibility."

The NCAA report said several students used the extra money to pay for food, rent, utilities and car repairs.