The University of Massachusetts provided impermissible financial aid that exceeded the full cost of attendance for both men's basketball and women's tennis athletes, the NCAA announced Friday. The committee on infractions determined the violations should be classified as Level II-mitigated and punished UMass with two years of probation, a fine and a vacation of records in contests ineligible players participated in from 2014-17.
In total, the panel found UMass provided more than $9,100 in excess of full cost of attendance on 13 separate occasions over a three-year span. Four athletes received a higher housing rate after moving to cheaper housing off the school's campus, eight continued to receive a fee associated with dorm phones, and one received both. Receiving the additional financial aid resulted in those student-athletes competing while ineligible, per the NCAA, thus resulting in the penalty that UMass must vacate records of contests in which those players competed.
"On 13 occasions involving unique circumstances, UMass failed to identify and correct financial aid coverage payments," the panel said in its ruling. "The excessive financial aid rendered the student-athletes ineligible. NCAA rules require member schools to withhold ineligible student-athletes from competition until their eligibility is restored, regardless of the school's knowledge."
The NCAA probation prescription is effective today, Oct. 16, 2020, and runs through Oct. 15, 2022. UMass also paid a self-imposed $5,000 fine.
"When an institution makes a mistake, it is accountable for the consequences of that mistake," the panel said in its decision. "Here, the mistake was providing excessive aid, and the consequence was the requirement to withhold ineligible student-athletes from competition."
UMass announced it will appeal the NCAA's penalties