UMass Amherst fined for violating NCAA’s rules on financial aid

Hampshire County

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – The University of Massachusetts Amherst has been fined for providing 12 student-athletes in men’s basketball and women’s tennis with financial aid that exceeded the full cost of attendance, according to a decision released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

According to a news release sent to 22News from the NCAA, in total, UMass provided more than $9,100 in excess of the full cost of attendance on 13 occasions over a three-year period. Four student-athletes received a higher housing rate after they moved to less-expensive off-campus housing, and eight continued to receive a fee associated with dorm phones after they moved to off-campus housing. One student-athlete received both.

UMass is calling the punishment an overreach.

“The NCAA has asked us to vacant wins that impact coaches and student-athletes especially that had absolutely no knowledge that any of these financial aids mistakes which were in adverted and unintentional had occurred,” Director of Athletics at UMass Amherst, Ryan Bamford, said.

Bamford added that no recruiting or competitive advantage was received from the extra financial aid.

The additional aid resulted in those student-athletes competing while ineligible. NCAA rules require member schools to withhold ineligible student-athletes from competition until their eligibility is restored, regardless of the school’s knowledge. 

The committee said the violations occurred as a result of a former associate athletics director’s misunderstanding of financial aid rules and administrative error.

The release states that the school’s financial aid distribution and monitoring processes properly awarded aid in 98 percent of cases during that same time period. As a result, the committee determined that the violations did not demonstrate a failure-to-monitor violation.

UMass is now on probation for two years starting Friday, will receive a $5,000 fine, and a vacation of records of contests in which student-athletes participated while ineligible.

The university must also provide a written report containing the contests impacted, to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public release of the decision.

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