Statement from President Mark D. Gearan
January 10, 2011
I write to provide some background on the recently reported stories of the NCAA actions following our self-reported infractions. At the start of the 2008-09 academic year, the Colleges identified possible issues with NCAA compliance regulations related to Hobart football and lacrosse. Once we confirmed these issues, which came to light through separate circumstances, we reported them to the NCAA and began working with NCAA officials to find an equitable resolution, one that fairly recognizes any administrative oversights without unduly penalizing our programs or students.
On Thursday, January 6, 2011, the NCAA released its infraction report and associated sanctions. Penalties include three years of probation, a one-year postseason ban for lacrosse, a vacation of records in football (the 2006 and 2007 seasons) and lacrosse (the 2006 season), and financial penalties, among others.
For lacrosse, the NCAA requirements that first-year students be cleared through the Eligibility Center were inadvertently overlooked. While this oversight is regrettable, it is important to note that our admissions and on-going academic standards far exceed those required by the NCAA. We agreed with the NCAA to review five seasons of eligibility and found no cases in which a student athlete was admitted to the Colleges who would not have been cleared for initial eligibility by the NCAA. Similarly, we found that only one student athlete would have failed to meet the ongoing academic requirements, in this instance for the spring 2006 semester. In this case the student had been suspended for failing to meet academic standards, but was allowed to return after submitting an appeal to the Committee on Standards.
In the case of football, the Colleges identified infractions related to an alumnus' good intention to fund the education of students for whom the cost of a private liberal arts education would have been out of reach. Unfortunately, the fact that two of these students participated as members of the football team in 2006 and 2007 resulted in a violation of NCAA rules. The students were never recruited to play football, and while participation was an important aspect of their educational experience, their primary objective in attending HWS was the opportunity to earn their college degree.
At no point was there any intention to gain a competitive advantage, nor was there in fact any actual competitive advantage gained.
When we learned of these administrative lapses, we briefed the Committee on Athletics and kept the faculty athletic representatives informed throughout the process. We have also taken several steps to make certain that we are never in this position again including: the review of all internal processes to ensure future compliance; instituting a robust set of professional development protocols; completing a full compliance review; securing the appropriate staff to oversee compliance; and retaining the counsel of the Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck and King, widely recognized as the top NCAA compliance firm in the country. We recognize that the complexity of the NCAA's large and constantly expanding legislation and bylaws require greater attention from the Colleges. We stand behind the more than 100 year history of Hobart lacrosse as well as the intent of the alumnus and the funds he provided to improve access to deserving students. We believe in the noble intentions of the program that enabled these students to attend HWS, and we are very proud of their academic, personal and post-graduate success.
Although we are a small, primarily Division III school with limited resources, we accept the NCAA's judgment and have complied in every way with the NCAA's requests. Our intention now is to move forward with continued professional development, a greater sense of clarity regarding the role we must take in compliance issues, and a continued commitment to the rich educational experience we provide all student athletes.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
With every best wish, I remain