Sports

Athletic department vacates 395 wins after compliance violations

The athletic department was forced to vacate 395 wins across eight different sports after improperly certifying 130 students from 2013-2018. Vanguard Graph | Matthew Hintz

Eight SVSU sports will be vacating a combined 395 wins.

The vacations came after SVSU self-reported record-keeping violations involving multiple sports spanning several years in a press release on Feb. 7. The report stated the self-reported 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 director of community and media relations, said eight sports in total were affected.

Sports vacating wins include:

•Volleyball: 34 wins spanning four seasons, including 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18

•Football: 20 victories spanning five seasons, including 2013-14 through 2017-18

•Women’s tennis: 4 wins from the 2013-14 season

•Men’s soccer: 53 victories spanning four seasons, including 2013-14, 2014-15, 2016-17, 2017-18

•Women’s basketball: 23 wins spanning two seasons, including 2013-14, 2014-15

•Men’s basketball: 69 victories spanning four seasons, including 2014-15, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18

•Baseball: 78 wins spanning five seasons, from 2013-14 through 2017-18

•Softball: 114 victories spanning four seasons, including 2013-14, 2014-15, 201516, 2016-17

Boehm said SVSU will have to return “NCAA championship hardware” accumulated for the affected programs, including an NCAA trophy for men’s basketball reaching the Elite 8 in 2016.

SVSU has notified GLIAC of their findings, but they do not yet know if any GLIAC titles may be affected, Boehm said.

Boehm said SVSU did not originally anticipate to vacate a large number of wins.

“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.”

Head softball coach Todd Buckingham was “disappointed” to hear about the vacating of 114 victories.

“The vacation of wins is something we have known about for some time, and I am extremely disappointed this unfortunate situation occurred,” he said. “I am confident that the new resources the university has dedicated to compliance will prevent this from happening again, and we are simply focusing on the future.”

Buckingham does not expect the vacated wins to affect team morale.

“It will have no bearing on how we play or perform moving forward,” he said. “Most of these players were not here or part of the situation, so all we can do is ‘be present’ and work hard to accomplish great things this season and in future seasons to come.”

He does not anticipate it affecting recruitment, either.

“Any recruit we are truly after will know what we are about as a program and university, and it will not impact their decision,” he said.

Boehm said the university will now have two people dedicated to athletic compliance checks. Buckingham believes this will help the athletic department going forward.

“I have the utmost confidence that the new resources dedicated to compliance the university has in place will prevent this from ever happening again, and we are moving forward focused on the future,” he said.

NCAA’s major infractions report 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 report found included frequent turnover, communication breakdowns and understaffing.

According to the NCAA report, SVSU’s punishments include:

•Ineligibility to host any NCAA championship competitions in any sport during the spring semester of the 2018-2019 academic year

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

•A $5,000 fine

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