Southeastern Louisiana University officials have self-reported rules infractions to the NCAA involving 137 student-athletes, the university announced Thursday.
The school said the violations occurred between the 2005-06 and 2009-10 school years, with the majority of them coming during the first two years of that five-year span from the fall of 2005 to the spring of ’07.
According to a news release, the student-athletes competed without meeting eligibility requirements and failed to meet academic eligibility requirements to compete under NCAA rules.
School officials declined to release the sports involved.
In turning itself in to the NCAA, Southeastern recommended self-imposed penalties that include vacating victories in which ineligible student-athletes participated, scholarship reductions and a two-year probationary period.
The NCAA is processing the infractions case.
“This was a case where student-athletes were erroneously certified as being eligible due to flaws in the eligibility certification process,” SLU Athletic Director Bart Bellairs said in the news release.
“In many instances, student-athletes would have been eligible had proper procedure been followed, such as timely declaration or change of a major.”
Bellairs said the student-athletes didn’t necessarily lack academic preparation and ability, noting that 86 percent of the 137 student-athletes in question either obtained their degrees from SLU or left in “good academic standing.”
The news release said athletics staff members responsible for academic advising and eligibility certification when the violations occurred are no longer associated with Southeastern and no current student-athlete participated while ineligible.
School officials declined to name the sports involved or identify the officials and staff members responsible for eligibility certification during the time period covered by a two-year investigation.
“Unfortunately, we cannot comment any further than our release while the (NCAA) investigation is ongoing,” Rene Abadie, the school’s director of public information, wrote in an email to The Advocate.
The Advocate has requested documents pertaining to the matter.
Jackie Tisdell, assistant vice president for communications for the University of Louisiana system, said System President Sandra Woodley, board Chairman Wayne Parker and Vice Chairman E. Gerald Hebert were briefed on the case by SLU President John Crain.
“We don’t know much,” said Carl Shetler, who was also briefed as the chairman of the UL system’s athletic committee. “The only thing I can tell you is they self-reported it.
“They (SLU) found everything there and put in a letter that they accept their assessment of the investigation,” Shetler said when reached by phone Thursday night. “The NCAA’s still in there, so it’s not right to make any accusations or anything.”
While he believes the infractions are serious, Shetler said the eventual punishment may not be that severe because the school turned itself in following an internal investigation.
“Anything such as that is serious, but I look at theirs as a very low punishment because they self-reported themselves,” Shetler said. “The NCAA will probably accept what Southeastern has already done. That’s just me talking, but we hope that’s what happens.”
Bellairs said the university implemented “significant safeguards to ensure compliance” following the discovery of the violations. He said the school has redesigned the eligibility certification process to include much greater participation and oversight outside of the athletic department.
The corrective actions, according to the news release, include the appointment of an assistant to the president for athletics compliance, the addition of a new compliance coordinator and enhanced compilance training of athletics coaches and staff.
“It is regrettable that current student-athletes, coaches and programs will suffer penalties as a result of these infractions,” Bellairs said. “But I am completely confident the systems we have in place currently will help avoid these issues from recurring.”