October 18, 2013

Maine Maritime cited for financial aid infraction

More news about: Maine Maritime

Once upon a time, Jim Bower and his Mariners teammates played in the 2009 Division III football playoffs. Now, officially, that no longer happened.
Maine Maritime athletics file photo 

Maine Maritime Academy failed to monitor the creation and awarding of four scholarships that considered athletics participation as a criterion, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. In total, nine student-athletes received more than $5,000. 

NCAA rules do not allow Division III schools to consider athletics when determining a student’s financial aid. Because the school did not oversee the creation and administration of the scholarships and did not educate campus personnel about NCAA rules, Maine Maritime also failed to monitor its financial aid program. Additionally, a former director of athletics served on the school’s annual scholarship selection committee, contrary to NCAA rules.

Penalties in this case include two years of probation, a vacation of its participation in the 2009 Division III football championship and additional rules education.

"The improperly awarded aid was small in its amount," said athletic director Stephen Peed, who discovered the violations shortly after he was hired for the 2011-12 academic year, "and I rest comfortably knowing that the Academy was not acting in any intentional manner in order to gain a competitive advantage; however, the rules were clear at the time of the violation and those rules were most certainly violated."

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, school and involved individuals must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having a formal hearing.

From 2007-08 through 2011-12, Maine Maritime considered athletics leadership, participation or performance as a criterion in four of its scholarship programs. Two of the scholarships gave preference to students who participated in athletics, while the other two scholarships required athletics participation before a student could be eligible for grants.

The vice president for advancement and the president, the only two individuals with the authority to accept financial gifts on behalf of the school, were unaware that the director of financial aid created one of the impermissible scholarships. Additionally, a former athletics director did not research NCAA rules before telling the vice president of advancement that one scholarship that considered athletics participation as criterion was permissible. Another scholarship that gave preference to students who participated in athletics was established in 1994, and Maine Maritime acknowledged that it did not have the protocols in place to confirm that the scholarship complied with NCAA rules. Further, Maine Maritime failed to educate campus personnel about NCAA financial aid rules. The lack of rules education and scholarship program oversight resulted in the school failing to monitor its financial aid process.

The penalties include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Two years of probation from October 17, 2013 through October 16, 2015.
  • Upon being hired, the vice president for enrollment services must attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar (self-imposed by the school).
  • Request a Level Two review from the NCAA Committee on Financial Aid.  During this review, the committee looks closely at an school’s policies and procedures for awarding aid, as well as the impact of those factors on aid received by student-athletes (self-imposed by the school).  
  • Engage a qualified outside entity to conduct a rules education session on campus.
  • Vacate participation in the 2009 Division III football championship.
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