The Hobart football and lacrosse programs have been placed on three years' probation by the NCAA for major violations involving ineligible players, impermissible benefits, and lack of institutional control. The lacrosse program will also be banned from postseason play in 2011. The college released this statement in response to the penalties Thursday evening.
Statement Regarding NCAA Sanctions
At the start of the 2008-09 academic year, the Colleges identified possible issues with NCAA compliance regulations related to Hobart football and lacrosse. Once we confirmed these issues, which came to light through separate circumstances, we reported them to the NCAA and began working with NCAA officials to find an equitable resolution, one that fairly recognizes any administrative oversights without unduly penalizing our programs or students.
On Thursday, January 6, 2011, the NCAA released its infraction report and associated sanctions. Penalties include three years of probation, a one-year postseason ban for lacrosse, a vacation of records in football (the 2006 and 2007 seasons) and lacrosse (the 2006 season), and financial penalties, among others.
“After identifying these compliance issues two and a half years ago, we have worked diligently to ensure that Hobart and William Smith Colleges are properly organized and staffed to manage compliance requirements at a multidivisional institution,” says Vice President for Student Affairs Robb Flowers. “The Colleges have already met many of the NCAA’s sanctions requirements and I am confident that by continuing to work collaboratively with NCAA officials, we will ensure that this does not occur again.”
Lacrosse infractions occurred when first-year students were inadvertently overlooked for clearance through the NCAA Eligibility Center. While this oversight is regrettable, it is important to note that our admissions and on-going academic standards far exceed those required by the NCAA. We agreed with the NCAA to review five seasons of eligibility and found no cases in which a student athlete was admitted to the Colleges who would not have been cleared for initial eligibility by the NCAA. Similarly, we found that only one student athlete would have failed to meet the ongoing academic requirements, in this instance for the spring 2006 semester.
In the case of football, the Colleges identified infractions related to an alumnus’ good intention to fund the education of students for whom the cost of a private liberal arts education would have been out of reach. Unfortunately, the fact that two of these students participated as members of the football team in 2006 and 2007 resulted in a violation of NCAA rules. The students were never recruited to play football, and while participation was an important aspect of their educational experience, their primary objective in attending HWS was the opportunity to earn a Hobart College degree.
Since self-reporting these infractions to NCAA, the Colleges have undertaken a number of measures including:
• hiring a full time compliance and eligibility officer
• reviewing all internal processes to ensure future compliance
• instituting a robust set of professional development protocols
• completing a full compliance review
• retaining the counsel of the Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck and King, widely recognized as the top NCAA compliance firm in the country
“These NCAA infractions, which emerged through separate circumstances, have clearly demonstrated that the complexity of the NCAA’s large and expanding legislation requires greater attention,” says Director of Athletics Mike Hanna ’68. “We have a responsibility to our students to ensure that administrative details do not impede their ability to play their chosen sport and we have a responsibility to our alumni, students and fans to maintain the rich history and character of Hobart athletics. As we move forward maintaining our focus on the educational experiences of our student-athletes and the support of our coaches, we are taking appropriate steps to reinforce our administrative procedures.”