Cal Poly tennis coach reprimanded after resignation

School claims leader ran men’s program over budget but does not mention other allegations

jscroggin@thetribunenews.comSeptember 2, 2011 

As a result of an NCAA investigation into the men’s tennis program at Cal Poly, the university received a fine of $1,200 and claimed that former Mustangs head coach Justin McGrath ran his program over budget for five straight years, according to two formal letters of reprimand provided by the Cal Poly public affairs office Friday afternoon.

The letters did not mention further allegations leveled at McGrath by team members and an assistant coach.

The budget and late roster paperwork, which one letter states as the causes for the fine, were the main topics in the reprimands, which threatened suspension or termination for the coach, who resigned more than a month ago.

Neither Cal Poly public affairs nor Athletic Director Don Oberhelman, who authored the letters, returned phone messages seeking comment.

NCAA investigators conducted interviews with tennis players via teleconference in June after players circulated a petition to remove McGrath and submitted it to Oberhelman.

Players and a former assistant coach said a culture of systematic scholarship reductions led to distrust of the coach, who was also accused of forcing players to sign scholarship agreements with falsified dates.

The Tribune requested scholarship documents from Cal Poly under state open-records laws, but the university has withheld the documents while concurrent investigations by the NCAA and the university remain ongoing.

McGrath was also accused of submitting meal voucher forms with falsified signatures. In documents provided by the former assistant coach, both the coach and a player claimed that money had been attributed to them on documents without having been received and that the signatures submitted were not their own.

Neither of the university’s letters mentions the alleged forgery of documents, and neither addresses McGrath’s alleged practice of reducing scholarships after promising higher percentages to recruits.

McGrath was the most successful coach in the Division I history of the program, which moved up from Division II in 1994. He delivered the program’s first-ever team berth to the NCAA Tournament, also the program’s first at-large berth, this past season.

When asked about the allegations in July, McGrath said the NCAA investigation had nothing to do with his resignation and declined further comment to The Tribune.

McGrath later issued a statement to a local TV station that explained how, despite his success, he chose to step away because of a rift with members of the team. McGrath also acknowledged that scholarship decisions played a role in the schism.

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