The Washington baseball team’s crowning achievement may be in jeopardy.
On Friday, Oct. 9, the NCAA announced punishments for the UW baseball team after finding the Huskies violated recruiting rules by providing impermissible benefits to its recruits by paying for the flights of parents accompanying prospects on official visits.
"I'm disappointed for our baseball program and for every Husky player past and present who is dealing with today's news," head coach Lindsay Meggs said in a press release. "Since taking over this program, my coaches and I have made it a priority to build and foster a culture of integrity and compliance, and today's news will not change that.”
According to the Division I Committee on Infractions, the UW paid $7,795 for 23 parents of 14 recruits during a three-year period until its discovery and self-report by Meggs in September 2018.
By then, three players had already committed and played for Washington before the school sought reinstatement, making them ineligible for competition. Schools are only allowed to pay travel expenses for FBS football and basketball. According to the UW’s press release, all three players were already verbal commits when they received these benefits and were immediately reinstated after the school self-reported its violations.
As punishment, the baseball team will receive a one-year probation and a self-imposed $5,000 fine, and will only be allowed to host 18 players on official visits instead of the normal 25. Lastly, the school must vacate the wins that the three ineligible athletes participated in and provide written reports of the changed statistics to the NCAA within the next two weeks.
With the violation being self-reported in September 2018, the Huskies’ College World Series appearance in June of the same year — the only one in the program’s history — are among the 61 games played that the NCAA wants vacated.
Associate Athletics Director Jay Hilbrands confirmed to The Daily that the UW Athletics Department will appeal the NCAA's decision.
UW Director of Athletics Jennifer Cohen was surprised at the NCAA’s ruling and said the athletics department did everything possible to correct its mistakes. She also backed Meggs, who prepares to enter his 12th year at the helm of the UW baseball team.
“We have full confidence in Coach Meggs and his leadership of our baseball program moving forward,” she said. “Our commitment is to our students and protecting the tremendous achievements they have accomplished, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to do this through the appeal process.”
In its statement, the NCAA stated the infractions occurred due to a misunderstanding between the baseball team and the compliance office. Two assistants told Meggs the team was allowed to pay for travel expenses, and when asked to check, a former assistant said he did and they were still allowed. The committee found no documentation that this conversation between the former assistant and the office of compliance occurred.
The committee also criticized the school’s ability to ensure the rules were followed and its failure to provide important staff members with rules education. Additionally, it stated the UW’s pre-approval and post-visit reconciliation processes had major gaps and did nothing to dissuade or detect violations.
“The violations reflected weaknesses in the university’s monitoring of recruiting travel administration and related education,” the committee said.
However, Meggs is grateful for the UW athletics department’s support and hopes to move on and focus on the upcoming season.
“I'm grateful for the support that President [Ana Mari] Cauce, Jen Cohen and our entire athletic administration have provided us since day one,” he said. “It only reinforces what a privilege it is to be involved in athletics at the University of Washington.”
Reach Sports Editor Andy Yamashita at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ANYamashita
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