College Sports

Cal Poly athletics hit with NCAA sanctions over financial aid violations

Could affect majority of sports programs

Cal Poly athletics hit with NCAA sanctions over financial aid violations

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Cal Poly is facing major NCAA sanctions over financial aid violations involving hundreds of student-athletes.

The university will be placed on two years of probation and will have to vacate records in which student-athletes competed when they should have been ruled ineligible.

265 student-athletes in 18 sports were awarded an $800 stipend to purchase textbooks. Those stipends exceeded the actual cost of books for 72 students by over $16,000. The stipends also caused 30 students to exceed their financial aid limits.

A committee that investigates NCAA infractions ruled that Cal Poly did not monitor the book scholarship program to make sure it followed NCAA rules. The committee says they did not believe the university broke the rules on purpose, but said there is no ambiguity in the wording of the legislation.

Cal Poly did not have policies or procedures in place to monitor the book stipend and did not require receipts to make sure the money was used properly, the committee said.

The university disagreed to the level of the financial aid violations and said they disagreed that the university did not monitor the book stipend system. The committee decided that violations were severe due to the fact they occurred for over three years and involved so many student-athletes. 

Cal Poly will be placed on probation for two years, will be forced to vacate records by ineligible student-athletes and will have to pay a $5,000 fine. Cal Poly agreed that most of its sports programs competed while ineligible as a result of the violations. Milestone wins will also be vacated.

This is Cal Poly's third major infractions case, but is the first for the university since 1995.

"Cal Poly has cooperated in every way with the NCAA throughout this process that began in 2015,” said Director of Athletics Don Oberhelman in a statement issued to our newsroom. “There was never an intent to violate NCAA rules, and when we discovered the issue, we self reported it to the NCAA.”

The university also stated that it maintained that only 30 student‐athletes received more than permitted for books. The university believes that the violations equal roughly $174.57 per student‐athlete. Cal Poly self-reported the infractions to the NCAA.

The full statement by Cal Poly can be read here.

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