SVSU sports teams to vacate combined 395 wins after NCAA violations

Eight SVSU sports teams will be vacating a combined 395 wins due to NCAA athlete eligibility violations.

Vanguard Photo | Kyle Will

The vacations come after SVSU sent a self-report to the NCAA regarding record-keeping violations involving multiple sports and spanning several years. The NCAA major infractions decision stated the violations involved the “improper eligibility certification of numerous student-athletes over a five-year period” at SVSU.

Between 2013 and 2018, SVSU improperly certified 130 student-athletes in 15 sports, the report stated, resulting in 137 violations of amateurism and eligibility certification as well as “seasons of competition” legislation.

SVSU had 45 days after the Feb. 7 release to report which sports would be affected by the violations.

J.J. Boehm, the SVSU director of community and media relations, said eight sports in total were affected. Sports vacating wins are:

  • Softball: 114 wins spanning four seasons, including 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17
  • Baseball: 78 wins spanning five seasons, from 2013-14 through 2017-18
  • Men’s basketball: 69 wins spanning four seasons, including 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18
  • Men’s soccer: 53 wins spanning four seasons, including 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-17 and 2017-18
  • Volleyball: 34 wins spanning four seasons, including 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18
  • Women’s basketball: 23 wins spanning two seasons, including 2013-14, 2014-15
  • Football: 20 wins spanning five seasons, including 2013-14 through 2017-18
  • Women’s tennis: 4 wins from the 2013-14 season

Boehm said SVSU did not originally anticipate to vacate as many wins as it ultimately did.

“When we first self-reported, there were relatively few violations,” he said. “As we cooperated with the NCAA and conducted additional fact finding for more than a year, it became clear that most of our athletic programs were affected and that the number of wins to be vacated could be substantial.”

NCAA’s major infractions decision stated, “Weaknesses in SVSU’s athletics compliance program caused a breakdown in SVSU’s eligibility certification process over a multiyear period resulting in numerous student-athletes being erroneously certified.”

Weaknesses the decision found included frequent turnover, communication breakdowns and understaffing.

SVSU Athletic Director John Decker, who took over for Mike Watson after Watson left SVSU at the end of 2017, has said the violations were largely a matter of SVSU not certifying athletes as amateurs.

“The NCAA requires athletes to be certified as amateurs, which is basically ‘check a box,’” Decker told The Vanguard in February. “That wasn’t done.”

After sending the self-report to the NCAA, Decker said SVSU worked with the NCAA to fix the errors and begin recertifying student-athletes.

According to the NCAA decision, SVSU’s punishments also included:

• Four years of probation from Feb. 7, 2019, through Feb. 6, 2023

• A $5,000 fine

• Ineligibility to host any NCAA championship competitions in any sport during the spring semester of the 2018-19 academic year

Kaitlyn Farley

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