Saginaw Valley State University's athletic department has been slapped with significant sanctions by the NCAA, involving major violations in 15 sports — including football — and more than 100 student-athletes over a four-year period.
The NCAA ruled last week, and Saginaw Valley State has concurred that the athletic department improperly certified 130 student-athletes from 2013-14 through 2017-18, which resulted in 137 cases of "violations of amateurism and eligibility certification."
In 80 cited instances, student-athletes competed when they were not yet eligible.
As a result, Saginaw Valley State will be placed on probation through Feb. 6, 2023, have to pay a $5,000 fine, and vacate all records accumulated during the period in question. While the NCAA doesn't specify all sports involved, the vacating of records likely will mean forfeiting hundreds of victories. Coaches whose teams were involved will not be able to include forfeited victories on their resumes, even if they switch schools.
The university also will be ineligible to host NCAA championship contests during this semester, and the school will undergo an independent audit of its compliance department this year and during the final year of probation.
Also, university officials will be required to attend NCAA rules seminars.
Saginaw Valley State has 17 sports programs, and all but two were cited for violations.
The NCAA cited, and Saginaw Valley State in self-reporting the violations has agreed, that "weaknesses" in the compliance department — brought on by several factors, including staff turnover, lack of staffing and "communication breakdowns" — were to blame for so many athletes being improperly certified over such a long period of time.
In September 2017, a Saginaw Valley State athletics-department official discovered the eligibility issues and reported them to the NCAA. More violations were discovered by Saginaw Valley State that December.
The university, which competes athletically in Division II, has agreed with the violations and penalties, and thus can't appeal.
Among the specific violations:
►From 2013-14 through 2016-17, 69 student athletes competed before receiving certification of amateur status.
►From 2014-15 through 2016-17, 13 student athletes were certified as "early academic qualifiers" before a final high-school transcript was submitted to the NCAA.
►From 2013-14 through 2016-17, 14 student athletes who had transferred from another four-year school were allowed to compete before their sit-out year had expired.
►In 2016-17, four student athletes who had transferred from a two-year college were allowed to compete without meeting eligibility requirements.
►From 2013-14 through 2016-17, 16 student athletes who had transferred from two-year colleges were allowed to compete despite being "partial qualifiers" or "nonqualifiers."
►From 2013-14 through 2016-17, 18 student athletes who were incoming freshman were allowed to compete despite not meeting the school's academic requirements.
►In 2016-17, two student athletes who were transfers (one from football, one from men's soccer) were allowed to compete despite lacking the required number of transferable degree credits.
►In 2017-18, one student athlete (from football) was allowed to compete despite already having completed 10 semesters at the university.
The football team was 5-5 in 2016 and 5-6 in 2017; the victories still are listed on the athletic-department's website, both on stats pages and in coach Jim Collins' bio.
Mike Watson, Saginaw Valley's athletic director since 2017, retired in December 2017, shortly after the school's initial self-reporting. He was replaced by John Decker, who remains the school's vice president for legal affairs.
Resigning was the school's compliance director from November 2016 through September 2017, and is unnamed in the 29-page report from the NCAA. Tom Nyman is Saginaw Valley State's current associate athletic director of compliance, having brought seven years of NCAA compliance experience when he was hired in the fall of 2017.