NCAA rejects Cal Poly appeal of punishment for athlete book stipends


The National Collegiate Athletic Association has rejected an appeal filed by Cal Poly and has upheld its decision to penalize the university for providing student-athletes excessive financial aid for textbook costs. 

Cal Poly will now be forced to vacate certain individual and team records, including wins and losses, amassed over a 3.5-year span. The university argues it is being treated unfairly and the punishment does not fit the crime.

Between 2012-2013 and fall 2015, Cal Poly provided 265 student athletes who competed in 18 sports an $800 stipend that amounted to more than the actual cost of course-related textbooks and supplies purchased, a violation of NCAA rules. The stipend exceeded the actual cost of books for 72 student athletes by a total of $16,180 and resulted in 30 student athletes exceeding their individual financial aid lints, according to a report produced last year by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Cal Poly acknowledged that 30 student-athletes were overcompensated by a total of $5,237 over a 3.5-year period. The 30 student-athletes were over-awarded an average of $174.57 for books over a 3.5-year period, according to the unviversity. 

As a result of the violation, the NCAA committee placed Cal Poly on two years of probation and ordered the university to vacate records of games in which student-athletes competed while ineligible because of the textbook rule violations. 

Cal Poly self-imposed a $5,000 fine for the infractions, but appealed the ruling that it must vacate records. The university argued vacating records is an inappropriate punishment that goes against NCAA case precedent and is unfair to student-athletes and coaches.

On Thursday, the NCAA announced its appeals committee upheld the infraction committee’s ruling. In its decision, the appeals committed ruled that the cases the university cited as precedent involved an outdated rules and penalty structure and could be factually differentiated from Cal Poly’s case.

The university responded with a statement disagreeing with the ruling.

“We are deeply disappointed by the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee’s decision to vacate the hard-earned individual records of some of Cal Poly’s former student-athletes over a relatively minor accounting error,” the Cal Poly statement says. “In our view, the NCAA has sidestepped its responsibility to fairness and sensible treatment of the very student-athletes the association is supposed to protect.”