NCAA Sanctions Alabama A&M for Miscertifying Student Athletes

Alabama A&M University has been hit with severe penalties from the NCAA for what the organization called, “some of the most extensive and widespread certification failures in recent case history.”

The University was determined to have miscertified 101 student athletes across 14 sports, allowing them to compete and receive travel benefits despite failing to meet academic eligibility requirements, such as minimum credit hours or academic degree criteria. The NCAA also noted in their release that Alabama A&M “did not withhold 60 of the student-athletes from the subsequent year’s competition before they were reinstated.”

The NCAA Academic Performance Program data review uncovered the miscertifications in the fall of 2015. The sanctions for such misconduct is severe, and include among them scholarship reductions for the football, baseball, men’s basketball, and men’s golf teams.

Bryan Hicks, AAMU Director of Athletics, addressed the sanctions in a brief press conference, which lasted less than nine minutes, assigning much of the blame to newly hired employees. “We had a lot of transition with staff since 2009,” he said. “There were individuals who were hired and didn’t have the necessary NCAA experience, but who had institutional knowledge and other responsibilities. What we ended up having to do is refresh and hire those seasoned professionals who specifically dealt with compliance and academics.”

The penalties have not only impacted the athletes, but the communities rallying behind the teams. Tonarius Gooden, A&M alum and season ticket holder to AAMU football and basketball games, expressed his disappointment. “It’s kind of heartbreaking that you had people that were supposed to be doing the job, but weren’t doing it properly,” Gooden said. “People that may have been considering Alabama A&M for athletics will take a second look at it now. Parents are going to look at that like, ‘Why do I want to send my child there, it doesn’t seem like they can do the right things at the right times.’”

Other sanctions imposed upon A&M include:

  • Five years of probation from Sept. 11, 2018, through Sept. 10, 2023.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by A&M) plus 1 percent of the annual budgets of the baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf programs
  • Recruiting restrictions for the 2018-2019 academic year
  • 2018-2019 postseason bans for baseball, men’s basketball, football and men’s golf
  • Vacated records in events where ineligible student athletes competed
  • No recruiting two-year college transfers for the 2019-2020 academic year

Alabama A&M said it has since taken steps to prevent more miscertifications.

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