NCAA: Baruch College Gave Players More Than $255K in Improper Benefits

NEW YORK ― Baruch College gave 30 student-athletes more than $255,000 in improper benefits over the course of five years, NCAA officials said in a decision issued Thursday.

The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions said the school’s former vice president for student affairs and enrollment management and its former head women’s basketball coach both violated NCAA ethical conduct rules.

The committee said in its report that it had not seen a high-level campus administrator who had such “breadth and scope of responsibilities in an infractions case” as the former vice president. The administrator and coach were not named in the report.

“The former vice president wanted to raise the profile of athletics at the college and as part of that effort he was closely involved in the recruitment, admission and awarding of financial aid for prospects and student-athletes, especially in the sport of women’s basketball,” Gerald Houlihan, a member of the infractions committee.

The former vice president, who was with the institution for 10 years, and former head women’s basketball coach “knowingly arranged or provided impermissible financial aid and extra benefits to student-athletes,” according to the NCAA.

However, the former vice president claimed he did not receive education on NCAA rules, therefore the violations were inadvertent. The former head women’s basketball coach also said he had insufficient rules education, according to the NCAA.

The penalties include four years of probation, a one-year postseason ban for the women’s basketball team and prohibiting the coach and vice president from all athletically related duties for one year.

It’s unclear if the school will appeal. Baruch College officials didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. The school in Manhattan has 18,000 students and 13 sports teams, according to its website.

Violations included granting in-state residency based on athletics, providing impermissible financial aid, cash awards and extra benefits and choosing student-athletes for resident assistant positions when they were not qualified.

The case started when Baruch College received two anonymous letters in early 2013 that alleged the former vice president provided two student-athletes improper financial aid. An internal investigation was conducted and a self-report was submitted to the NCAA enforcement staff in January 2014.

This was not the first time Baruch College was found to have committed major violations.

In the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years, the women’s basketball program was involved in a work-study program that wasn’t monitored correctly and led to extra benefits and wages for work not completed. Penalties included one year probation, a $5,000 penalty, vacated wins, and a two-game suspension for an assistant coach.

Houlihan said the prior case did not factor into the committee’s decision.