USF informed the NCAA that athletes in 12 of the school’s 14 sports used scholarship money to make purchases at an on-campus bookstore in violation of the governing body’s rules.
Athletic director Debra Gore-Mann said the 13 athletes who made the unintentional violations over a five-semester period have made restitution, but that the NCAA could level additional penalties once it reviews the Dons’ case. All of the athletes have sat out or will sit out games this school year and most of the suspensions have already taken place.
“Is there a chance? Yes,” Gore-Mann told The Examiner about further sanctions. “But I couldn’t even begin to speculate.”
Neither Gore-Mann nor sports information director Pete Simon would disclose the identities of the athletes. Gore-Mann told the Associated Press that men’s and women’s basketball players are involved.
In a press release, the school said the athletes in question purchased items outside of the scope of their scholarship money, including non-required textbooks and school supplies. The purchases averaged $135.
Gore-Mann said the school became aware of the violations this summer, before she was hired as the first woman athletic director in West Coast Conference history. She said she was informed of the violations during her hiring process.
“For me, any infraction is important,” Gore-Mann said. “I don’t ever classify them as major or minor and I want to rectify the problem right away.”
The problem stems from a computer system that should have blocked the prohibited purchases by athletes.
“When the university became aware that there might have been a problem, I initiated an internal investigation utilizing the services of the Director of Internal Audit and Tax Compliance,” USF vice president for advancement Dave Macmillan said in the statement released by the school. “We learned that the computer system that had been set up several years ago was not adequate to block purchases that were not permissible, that student-athletes were not properly educated about the restrictions and that the responsibility for monitoring these transactions was not clear.”
Gore-Mann said the school will submit a report to the NCAA by the end of the year. The governing body of college sports will then review the report and decide if the actions taken by USF have been sufficient or if additional penalties need to be levied.