NCAA probation disappoints students
April 24, 2014
How often do we see the headline of a news story regarding NCAA violations by a given school?
It seems like one university after another gets caught for some sort of rules violation nearly every month.
At the beginning of the day on April 23, there were a total of 24 teams on NCAA probation, according to the NCAA. By the end of the day there were 25.
I certainly never imagined that attending UW-River Falls would also mean attending a school sanctioned for NCAA rules violations. Yet, on April 23, UWRF was the team added to the list of teams on NCAA probation.
According to a report from the Associated Press, UWRF was given a year of probation for failing to monitor the scholarship process.
In other words, UWRF was giving scholarship money to athletes, which is a huge no-no in Div. III sports.
According to the report from the NCAA, $4,090, in total, was given to five members of the team between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 academic years. Additionally, the report indicated that former UWRF football coach John O’Grady was involved in the process.
As a student, I was very disappointed to hear this news come out. This affects the University far more than just the football team being put on a year of probation. While in the grand scheme of things, $4,090 between five members of the football program is not a huge amount, that isn’t the point here.
NCAA sanctions leave a huge black mark on any university. There are plenty of perspective students, especially in Minnesota and Wisconsin, that probably know nothing about UWRF. However, now they know that UWRF has a year of probation in football.
If I was a current high school student hoping to play football in the WIAC, I would immediately write off UWRF after this. When it comes to recruiting football players, and other athletes in general, a black mark of NCAA probation is a huge problem.
And what about the Falcon Center?
The groundbreaking for the center is set for May 2. Phase one of the project involves the face-lift for the football stadium, to be renamed David Smith Stadium, and the installation of field turf on Ramer Field itself.
So now the first part of the more than $50 million project will be done for a team now on a year-long probation.
Talk about putting a damper on next week’s groundbreaking.
An NCAA violation also places, I would imagine, UWRF on the NCAA’s radar. Why is this an important note? The NCAA report noted that O’Grady’s involvement made this a “major” violation.
A major violation suddenly puts UWRF within reach, if you will, of the NCAA’s “death penalty.”
The NCAA’s “repeat violator” rule states that any school that receives a second major violation with five years, in the same sport, will be barred from that sport for one to two years.
While there is nothing to indicate that this will happen, it is still a specter looming around the football program now. Undoubtedly, details will continue to emerge about this situation.
It is my opinion that any parties knowingly involved with this process should lose their job, if still employed at the University.
Again, I do not know who, other than O’Grady, was involved in this scandal.
This was a foolish move by the parties involved, though, and has certainly made this a disappointing time to be a fan of Falcon football.
Benjamin Lamers is an alumnus of UW-River Falls. He was editor of the <em>Student Voice</em> during fall semester 2013.