If the NCAA’s punishment of Wichita State University’s baseball program seems harsh in the context of other wrongdoing in college sports, the mistakes were inarguable and easily avoidable.
To their credit, university officials self-reported the infractions and are accepting most of the consequences without challenge.
WSU coaches and athletic director Eric Sexton also must ensure that staff and athletes have the information and supervision to avoid running afoul of NCAA rules in the future.
The results of the NCAA’s probe, announced Thursday, surely disappointed players, students and fans, and did nothing to lift the cloud over the final part of former coach Gene Stephenson’s distinguished 35-year career at WSU.
Investigators determined that 21 baseball players, aided by an administrative assistant, ordered shoes, clothes, hunting gear and other non-athletic items from WSU’s apparel provider from 2011 to 2013 for a total of $7,594.18 using a 50 percent discount – a perk that violated the rules.
WSU coach Todd Butler and his team now face one year of probation, in addition to seeing WSU’s 2013 NCAA Tournament appearance vacated, some wins forfeited and a $5,000 fine assessed. WSU said Thursday it would appeal the change to the team’s win-loss record.
Clearly, staff and players at a Division I school with the stature of WSU should have known and abided by the rules. Whether those rules are unreasonable is a debate for another day.
For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman