Don’t look now, but big time college football and basketball aren’t the only ones to come under the watchful eye of the NCAA when it comes to recruiting violations. Division III hockey now gets to feel the whip.
Yes, D-III hockey is getting smacked down thanks to a couple of SUNYAC schools.
The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions has imposed one-year postseason bans on State University College at Buffalo and State University College at Geneseo for violations of financial aid rules.
The postseason ban for both schools applies to teams (primarily ice hockey) with student-athletes that had been awarded special grants for students from Canada. Both Buffalo State and SUNY Geneseo had awarded grants almost exclusively to student-athletes, particularly those in men’s and women’s ice hockey.
The SUNYAC playoffs have just six teams and with Geneseo being on the cusp of that, this hurts them badly because now they’re automatically out of the mix. The conference is made up of nine schools but SUNY-Morrisville is not eligible for postseason play yet as they just joined Division III in the last couple of years.
Division III schools have to recruit more creatively than Division I schools do because D-III schools aren’t allowed to give out athletic scholarships and grant in aid programs like the ones described in the NCAA report are used to help bring players over from Canada. Of course, most schools also find ways to do this so that they stay within the boundaries of the rules set by the NCAA so there’s that too. The impact this will have on the teams this year is pretty simple – no playoffs and they exist solely to play spoilers to everyone else in the SUNYAC. The playoffs thing is big mostly for Geneseo as they’ve been a perennial burr-in-the-ass to the conference’s traditional top two teams in Oswego and Plattsburgh. Geneseo is currently in a three-way tie for fourth place with Brockport and Cortland.
Buffalo State has been a perennial doormat for the conference for the better part of their existence and they were locked in a tie for last with the aforementioned Morrisville and destined for a first round playoff date with either Oswego or Plattsburgh. Instead, they’ll be at home with Geneseo and causing a bit of a shake up in Division III.
Why a shake up? Mainly because most of the other schools in Division III will be getting their books looked at closely when it comes to how they’re spending their money to bring in students from outside the country. From the looks of the report by the NCAA, both institutions have done their share to fall on the sword and punish themselves to keep the NCAA off their backs but there’s potential here for a blow to be felt throughout the rest of Division III because of this.
Obviously Division III schools aren’t generally making money off of intercollegiate athletics and if the NCAA is coming in and smacking programs around for cheating the system or cooking the books, school administrators aren’t going to have a high tolerance for that sort of activity, especially when it comes to state colleges who get a lot of money from the state government.
What these programs have done for themselves is made life a lot more difficult for their own success for the foreseeable future. Having school administrators watching over your shoulder any time you want to go recruit someone you want to add to the program is no way to live and trying to keep one’s nose clean while doing so, even though it should be simple enough to stay within the rules, is a pain in the neck when you’re a head coach. After all, you’ve already got 1,001 other things to keep track of and now with the college financial office watching closely with your job hanging on the line because of it… Well, that just flat out sucks to be in that position but it’s no one’s fault but their own for it and while it’s noble of them to mostly fess up for it on their own the immediate future at both Geneseo and Buffalo State looks grim. Look at the full punishment handed down by the NCAA:
Two years of probation from January 28, 2010, through January 27, 2012 (self-imposed by the institutions). Termination of the Canadian grant program for incoming students, beginning with the 2009-10 academic year (self-imposed by the institutions). Effective immediately, any of the institution’s athletics teams whose rosters include one or more student-athletes receiving Canadian grants shall end their seasons with the playing of their last regular-season contest and will not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including conference tournaments and NCAA championships. Further, any affected teams will not be eligible for regular-season conference championship consideration as long as their rosters include student-athletes receiving Canadian grants.
It’s not the death penalty for either of these schools, but it does effectively make their programs a lot worse off and it does so almost immediately.