Alaska Handed Postseason Ban; Vacates Wins
Hockey and 8 Other School's Sports Affected
CHN Staff Report
The Alaska hockey team has been banned from 2014-15 NCAA postseason play as the result of a series of eligibility infractions from 2007-2011 that affected nine of 10 sports at the university.
The NCAA penalty will be in addition to self-imposed sanctions Alaska implemented back in 2012 after self-reporting the violations. Those penalties included cutting two hockey scholarships.
"These infractions were due to the university’s failure to establish and maintain adequate systems to ensure that NCAA eligibility was being performed correctly," the university said in a statement released on its website Wednesday. "They are not the result of any wrongdoing by student-athletes."
The infractions included six men's hockey players being deemed academically ineligible for failing to declare a major and not completing a sufficient number of credits toward their degrees. Four hockey players were also ineligible due to being enrolled as a pre-major student, rather than being regularly enrolled.
The letter, penned to the Alaska-Fairbanks community, and signed by Brian Rogers, Chancellor; Gary Gray, athletic director; and Mike Sfraga, Vice Chancellor for University and Student Advancement, went on to say: "These penalties will present challenges to our programs. It may be more difficult for our coaches to recruit new players. For the teams and studentsâ€athletes facing limitations on postseason play and vacation of wins and records, these penalties are, understandably, discouraging. Despite this setback, I believe in our teams, our coaches and the university staff members who support them,"
In addition to the postseason ban, the NCAA penalty includes further scholarship losses, three years probation, a $30,000 fine and vacating all Nanooks' men's hockey victories from 2007-2011, and 60 percent of the wins from the 2011-12 season. That includes Alaska's 18-win season in 2009-10, which resulted in the program's only NCAA tournament appearance.
Alaska officials also said, in the letter, that it had already taken many steps to ensure that its compliance department was more efficient.
"Today, a multidisciplinary team comprised of representatives from compliance, advising, the registrar’s office and admissions meets monthly to discuss eligibility. Team members are trained in the nuances of eligibility and follow a wellâ€defined, written process for certification. Our student records system now flags student-athletes who may be in danger of becoming ineligible and alerts the appropriate staff member so that they can help make corrections before ineligibility happens.
"Clearly we needed, and now have, a well-defined, supportive compliance and advising system. I am proud of our Alaska Nanooks and sorry that our university let them down. Our students—and studentâ€athletes—deserve the best. Discovering this issue has allowed us to become a better university and a better athletics program."