Alcorn State sanctioned for NCAA violations

Published 3:46 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Alcorn State was sanctioned by the NCAA on Wednesday for using more than two dozen ineligible athletes in 11 sports over a four-year span from 2011-15.

The NCAA notified Alcorn that the university failed to monitor its progress-toward-degree certification and improperly certified as eligible a total of 28 athletes on the football, men’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, men’s and women’s cross country, women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s volleyball teams.

The NCAA sanctions include a two-year probation period that began Wednesday and continues through Oct. 18, 2018; a $5,000 fine and public reprimand; and the vacating of records in games in which the ineligible athletes participated.

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The fine will be retained by the university and used for compliance education of the registrar, academic advisors and compliance staff.

The football team will vacate its wins from the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the first two for which Vicksburg native Jay Hopson was the head coach. The team’s Southwestern Athletic Conference championship seasons of 2014 and 2015 were not affected by the sanctions.

The baseball team will vacate wins from the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, and men’s basketball from the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

In a statement, Alcorn State said the NCAA determined the infractions were the result of “an unintentional administrative error and not any form of improper behavior.”

The violations were discovered during an NCAA Division I Academic Performance Program audit in September 2014, and the university self-reported them in October 2015. In its report, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions said “Alcorn staff members did not understand the steps in the certification, which led to the registrar entering requirements incorrectly and the school’s compliance director erroneously certifying eligibility based on the total hours earned, not those hours applicable to the student-athletes’ degrees.”

The Committee’s panel found Alcorn did not provide adequate rules education to its academic advisors.
In a statement, Alcorn president Alfred Rankins Jr. said steps are being taken to correct the underlying issues behind the infractions.

“Alcorn and its leaders are cognizant of the complexity of the problems associated with past practices and structures. In taking full responsibility for these problems and complete ownership of and pride in our program, much has been done to rectify the matter; strategic, focused decisions will continue to be made to strengthen and solidify the operations and practices of the department and all associated University constituents,” Rankins said.

“We are highly focused on ensuring institutional control and shared responsibility for compliance,” he continued. “The Compliance office now reports directly to the president and has employed additional employees to meet its goals and improve the certification process.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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