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Publish date: Aug 29, 2013

Utica College failed to monitor financial aid program

INDIANAPOLIS – Utica College failed to monitor its Canadian International Student Award program, which led to Canadian student-athletes receiving more financial aid than the general Canadian student body, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. Penalties in this case include two years of probation, a postseason ban for any teams with student-athletes receiving the financial aid and increased oversight requirements.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, college and involved individuals must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having a formal hearing.

In 2010, the college developed the CISA program to attract Canadian students to under-enrolled majors. The goal of the program was to provide enough aid so that the cost of attendance for a Canadian student was roughly equivalent to that of a domestic student. Utica consulted the NCAA to ensure the program was designed to comply with NCAA rules. The NCAA advised the college to make the funds available to all prospective students using the same standard, to carefully monitor the impact of the financial aid and to act proactively if any problems arise.

As the program was administered, the number of Canadian student-athletes who enrolled at the college outnumbered the number of Canadian non-student-athletes. During the 2010-11 academic year, the college awarded the financial aid to five students. All recipients were men’s ice hockey student-athletes. In 2011-12, Utica awarded the financial aid to 11 students. The recipients were comprised of six men’s ice hockey student-athletes, one women’s ice hockey student-athlete and one baseball student-athlete.

When awarding the financial aid, the Office of International Education did not actively track whether the awardees were student-athletes. As a part of its effort to award financial aid without considering athletics participation, the college’s financial aid office did not track which students were members of athletics teams. During an internal review of the CISA program in December 2011, the college found that it was not achieving the proper balance between student-athletes and non-athletes receiving the financial aid. At that point, the college suspended the financial aid for incoming Canadian students for the 2012-13 academic year. It continued awarding the financial aid to continuing students who met the program’s eligibility criteria.

Because the college did not track the financial aid awarded to the Canadian student-athletes, the college failed to monitor the program. The committee notes that the lack of monitoring was intentional because the college did not want athletics participation to be a consideration in the financial aid progress.

The penalties include:

The members of the Division III Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Keith Jacques, attorney at Woodman, Edmands, Danylik, Austin, Smith and Jacques; Dave Cecil, chair and director of financial aid at Transylvania State; Amy Elizabeth Hackett, director of athletics at University of Puget Sound; Nancy Meyer, director of women’s athletics at Calvin College; and Garnett Purnell, director of athletics at Wittenberg University. 

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