Prestigious University Penalized For "Lack Of Institutional Control" In Athletics Program

Yeah, it's not the one you're probably thinking of. Today, the NCAA brought the hammer down on the California Institute of Technology's athletics program for allowing "30 ineligible student-athletes in 12 sports to practice or compete during four academic years." How does that even happen at a major university? Here's what the NCAA's investigation found at Caltech:

The student-athletes were ineligible due in large part to Caltech's unique academic policy that allows students to "shop" for courses during a three-week period of each quarter before finalizing their class schedules. During those three weeks, because they were not actually registered in some or all of the courses they are attending, some students were not enrolled on a full-time basis. Other student-athletes failed to meet good academic standing requirements.

The committee noted that Caltech's failure to have procedures to verify the full-time enrollment status or academic standing of the student-athletes contributed significantly to the lack of institutional control. Caltech did not have a written process or procedure in place for performing certification duties and ensuring the eligibility of all student-athletes. The former director of athletics relied on the registrar's office to communicate information to him, but he never formally requested the information and did not communicate NCAA eligibility requirements to personnel in that office. Further, the athletics department was not made aware when student-athletes were placed on academic probation or when student-athletes fell below good academic standing requirements. Similarly, coaches were not informed of the academic status of members of their teams

All of that, in the NCAA's mind, adds up to "lack of institutional control," and the penalties, some handed down by the NCAA and some self-imposed, hit pretty hard:

Public reprimand and censure.

Three years of probation from July 12, 2012, through July 11, 2015.

A 2012-13 postseason ban for the sports of men's and women's track and field; men's and women's cross country; women's swimming; baseball; men's and women's fencing; men's soccer; men's water polo; men's basketball; and men's and women's tennis. The ban extends to all the annual exemptions of Bylaw 17.1.4.5 and is further detailed in the public report. (Self-imposed by the university)

Vacation of all wins and individual records earned when ineligible student-athletes participated. (Self-imposed by the university)

A financial penalty of $5,000. (Self-imposed by the university)

Elimination of off-campus recruiting activities for the 2012-13 academic year. (Self-imposed by the university

The postseason ban is obviously the toughest penalty here, but then again we're talking about a men's basketball team that once lost 310 consecutive conference games, so maybe we're not really going to miss a whole lot there.