The women's basketball team at Thomas More College, a Division III institution in Kentucky, will be stripped of its national championship title because a star player lived with a former assistant coach while recovering from a knee injury. The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday announced that the college violated NCAA rules by allowing the athlete, Sydney Moss, to stay with the assistant coach, Jerry Allen, who was a volunteer with the program at the time, but also a longtime family friend.
"Sydney had a real tough upbringing," David Armstrong, the college's president, said during a media conference Tuesday. "She has had a tough upbringing and Jerry Allen and his family, also a biracial couple, were her friends since seventh grade. So when she injured her knee, she stayed with them."
Armstrong said the living arrangement was an unintentional mistake. In its infractions report, the NCAA acknowledged that Moss and Allen had long treated each other like family, but said that such a relationship does not exclude them from NCAA rules. The association said that the misunderstanding "stemmed from the college's failure to provide adequate rules education." Thomas More College must vacate all wins from the team's undefeated 2014-15 season in which Moss participated, agree to an outside audit of the college' athletics program, pay a $2,500 fine and remain on probation for two years, the NCAA stated.
Several staff members, including the head women's basketball coach, must also attend a regional rules seminar organized by the NCAA.