Nebraska announced on Tuesday that it has self-reported NCAA violations regarding student-athletes receiving impermissible textbooks. Under NCAA rules players can receive required textbooks, but are not able to receive the benefit of the ones recommended for the course.
The university's compliance department found 248 student-athletes received impermissible textbooks between the spring of 2007 and the fall of 2010. The total value of the textbooks reportedly comes to $27,869.47. The school said 181 of the student-athletes received less than $100 worth of benefits, while the total value for the remaining 57 was more.
If this sounds like "not big a deal," then welcome to the new world of compliance in college football. With the Ohio State's, North Carolina's, USC's, and possibly Oregon's finding themselves in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, school's across the nation have taken note. A new era of pro-actively watching and investigating the activities of the department is necessary for schools to guarantee they do not suffer a similar fate as other violators. Athletic director Tom Osborne spoke on the issue Tuesday.
"The important thing to understand is that opposed to as some other NCAA cases involving books, no student-athletes received any money. In other words, they didn't sell their books and pocket the money," Osborne said. "There was no scam of that type. No one knowingly violated any rules. The student-athletes simply did what they were told they could do. The extra benefit was really simply the use of some books they probably normally would not have bought. ... There was no athletic competitive advantage. In other words, there was no recruit that came here, nobody that was given a leg up in terms of competitive ability and certainly no coaches were involved at all in this.
"The error that we made was we simply did not monitor the situation as we should have. We probably should have had regular communication with the bookstore from our compliance office, and in turn, it would have been very helpful had the bookstore at some point have given us a call and said, "Is this something we can do?"
In addition to each of the student-athletes donating the value of the textbooks received to a charity of their choice, the school imposed a $28,000.00 fine on the athletic department. Nebraska has not received any official response from the NCAA, though the violations will likely fall under the "failure to monitor" allegations. In many cases the athletes were provided benefits by the book store staff, who did not know the recommended books were not permitted to be given along with the required materials.