Wesley College, in Delaware, has been punished by the National College Athletic Association’s Division III Committee on Infractions for major financial aid violations in its football program. An NCAA report released last week revealed that, during the 2006-7 academic year, Wesley “awarded financial aid packages to freshman football student-athletes that were clearly distinguishable from the aid packages awarded generally to all incoming freshman aid recipients at the institution.” In particular, incoming freshman football players were made aware of a financial aid appeals process that was not widely known among other freshmen. The policy, though not published, was considered a “word of mouth” phenomenon that football coaches made sure to note to their prospects. Only 43 percent of all incoming students in 2006 appealed their financial aid packages and received more aid, while 59 percent of incoming freshman football players appealed their packages and received more aid. Division III of the NCAA does not allow its member institution to award athletic scholarships. Still, the committee noted that “there was no evidence to suggest that the football coaches were deliberately attempting to circumvent NCAA rules.” Wesley has been placed on probation for two years and its athletic and financial aid staff must attend an NCAA rules seminar.
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