Cal Poly

Cal Poly may fight NCAA sanctions that could cost it 3 years of wins and championships

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has filed an intent to appeal NCAA sanctions related to a student athlete textbook scandal that dumbfounded players and a sports commentator.

The filing doesn’t mean the university has decided if it will take the advice of ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, who told The Tribune that “the only thing they really can do is appeal and raise hell about it, and they should.”

Rather, the filing gives the university 30 days to decide if it will appeal the ruling that would have the university wipe wins from its record. That could include the 2014 Big West men’s basketball championship that sent the Mustangs to the NCAA tournament for the first time.

The ESPN commentator railed against an NCAA ruling last month that Cal Poly would have to vacate wins and postseason participation over a three-and-a-half year period after the organization determined that the university provided improper stipends to help students pay for textbooks. He said the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and Cal Poly should fight back.

“They should be livid about this,” Bilas told the Tribune, “This is so far outside of the realm of reason, it’s almost unconscionable.”

The NCAA found that 265 students athletes in 18 sports from the 2012-13 academic year to the fall term of 2015 received $800 book stipends and those funds exceeded the actual cost of books in 72 cases by a total of $16,180 — ranging from $5 to $734 per person.

Cal Poly responded in an April news release that the university self-reported when it found the error, and that it amounted to $5,237.10 improperly distributed to more than 30 students over multiple years.

Students, too, have been unable to wrap their heads around the punishment, according to a report by Mustang News.

Former Cal Poly baseball center fielder Alex McKenna, who is currently playing in the Houston Astros organization, told The Tribune that “they are punishing some athletes at Cal Poly that had no idea this violation was even occurring.”

The baseball team’s NCAA playoff appearances from 2013 and 2014 could be vacated thanks to the ruling.

“It is just very disappointing anyway you look at it. These athletes don’t deserve to be punished for something they did not know was happening,” McKenna said.

“I get a scholarship check, and it’s a certain amount of money — sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less,” former Cal Poly Football fullback Joe Protheroe told Mustang News.. “If they went out and gave me an extra $150, how am I supposed to know that? Like, I got kids to take care of.”

“The university is still reviewing its options on how it will proceed,” university spokesman Matt Lazier told The Tribune on Thursday. “We won’t have any additional details to provide until that decision is made.”

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