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UMass Amherst Overpaid Athletes for Housing

October 19, 2020

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst was penalized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for overpaying 12 athletes on the men’s basketball and women’s tennis teams for their living expenses and in-dorm phone services that were no longer being used, according to an announcement from the NCAA on Oct. 16.

Under NCAA rules for Division I athletic programs, institutions are only permitted to grant athletes financial aid that does not exceed total cost of attendance, or else athletes become ineligible to compete. The UMass Amherst violations occurred from 2014 to 2017, when four athletes who were living in on-campus residence halls moved off campus and began to pay less for their housing, but received the same amount of aid, a report by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, or COI, said. The university also continued to pay eight athletes to cover a “telecom fee” associated with on-campus residences when they were no longer living there, the report said. One athlete received both payments.

UMass Amherst overpaid the athletes $9,100 in total financial aid, and each individual athlete was paid between $135 to $3,700 over their cost of attendance, the report said. The violations mean that the 12 athletes were ineligible to compete during 186 basketball games and tennis matches, the report said. The COI panel that decided on the case described it as an administrative “mistake” in an NCAA press release, which also said that 98 percent of the time at UMass Amherst, athletes were given an accurate amount of financial aid.

Regardless, UMass Amherst will be put on a two-year probation until October 2022, during which a compliance official from the athletics department and a financial aid official must attend an NCAA rules seminar. The university will also pay a self-imposed fine of $5,000, the report said. The university must also vacate victories of basketball games and tennis matches that involved the ineligible athletes over the three-year period. The violations were considered Level II, the second-highest level of infractions considered by the COI, the report said.

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Greta Anderson

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