UM Penalised Over Football Booster PerksBy Staff Reporter, UniversityHerald Reporter
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has imposed severe penalties against the University of Montana for violating several rules concerning student-athletes.
The university football program has been ordered to serve three years on probation, vacate five wins including two playoff victories; donate $3,000 to local charities and to approach an outside agency to re-evaluate its athletics compliance program. Plus, the program faces the loss of four scholarships for the next three seasons.
After conducting an 18-month investigation into the UM football program, NCAA found out that former head coach Robin Pflugrad failed to monitor the football program, allowing boosters to provide extra benefits, including bail money and legal representation, to players.
Other perks provided to players by the boosters included free meals along with clothing, lodging and transportation.
"There are often times good intentions...no malice, no anything," said Kent Haslam, Athletic Director at The University of Montana. "Just good intentions can be a violation of NCAA rules."
The investigation also revealed that the football team had exceeded its coaching limits and that two former players, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and backup quarterback Gerald Kemp, competed while ineligible.
"I don't want to sound like I'm celebratory at all but it is nice to have it concluded," said Haslam. "That the chapter is closed, we can now move forward. The public, everyone can understand exactly what was going on. We know what the penalties are and we can deal with those."
Apart from UM penalties, the NCAA announced separate sanctions to Pflugrad, who is now the offensive coordinator at Weber State. Jerry Bovee, Weber State athletic director, said that Pflugrad has accepted the sanctions and will not coach from Aug. 26 through Aug. 31, when the Wildcats play Stephen F. Austin. He also faces recruiting restrictions this season and has been told to attend an NCAA regional rules seminar in 2014.
'It is good to be moving forward and to have this situation resolved,'' said Kevin McRae, spokesman for the commissioner of higher education. ''UM's student athletes, athletic department, and administration have the full confidence and support of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Board of Regents.