Mason under review for NCAA violation
BY JALEN STUBBS, STAFF WRITER
On Sept. 14, Mason announced an intolerable appropriation of financial aid in five sports programs from 2016 to 2020.
According to a case synopsis document provided by Meghan Durham, the NCAA associate director of communications, “George Mason committed multiple financial aid violations when it provided scholarships exceeding full cost of attendance.”
“The NCAA enforcement staff, and school agreed that, over the course of four academic years, the school improperly provided scholarships exceeding full cost attendance on 27 occasions to 18 student-athletes in four sports, including women’s basketball, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball and women’s track and field,” the document stated.
According to the NCAA committee’s public report, Mason gave out $35,800 in illegitimate scholarships altogether. This resulted in 17 athletes competing in 196 contests illegally due to ineligibility.
The committee report stated that for the past four years, the most money given to both a women’s and men’s basketball athlete was over $8,000. In 2019, Mason hired a new deputy athletics director for compliance.
“In December 2019, when the institution (George Mason University) was preparing to apply athletics to student-athletes’ accounts for the spring semester, the deputy athletics director discovered that the institution over-awarded financial aid to men’s and women’s basketball student athletes in the previous fall semester,” the document stated.
The NCAA found that the men’s volleyball program exceeded permissible equivalencies in the 2018-2019 academic year due to logging over $50,000 of countable nonathletic aid as uncountable.
During these four academic years, the athletic department used the director of financial aid’s electronic signature to sign scholarship agreements without a formal request. This plan violated NCAA rules — the enforcement staff agreed that Mason was unsuccessful in monitoring its administration of financial aid.
In response to this crisis, the NCAA committee prescribed major penalties and collective measures.
According to the document, the penalties were one year of probation, a $5,000 fine, a reduction of 0.44 scholarships to men’s volleyball, required attendance at a Regional Rules Seminar and a vacation of all records in which student athletes competed while ineligible.
“The institution and enforcement staff agreed that the institution failed to monitor and ensure compliance when it failed to implement monitoring systems to discover miscalculations of athletics aid, obtain required signatures from the institution’s regular financial aid authority or designee and adequately educate individuals in compliance and financial aid so they could appropriately monitor the administration of athletics aid,” the document stated.