NCAA places Morgan State on three years' probation


Ten months after submitting a report to the NCAA in which it admitted to scores of rules violations throughout its athletic department, Morgan State has been placed on three years' probation, banned from postseason play in 10 of its 14 sports next year and hit with a reduction in scholarships in those 10 sports for the next two years.

According to a report released yesterday by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Morgan State allowed ineligible students to participate in eight sports -- football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's track and field, men's and women's tennis and wrestling -- between 1988 and 1994.

In addition, the committee found that a Morgan State academic adviser broke an NCAA rule by allowing athletes to use her car on several occasions between 1991 and 1993.

The committee also found that former Morgan State athletic director and track and field coach Leonard Braxton made improper air travel arrangements for the mother of a prospective athlete in March 1992. The school paid $597.50 for the mother to accompany her daughter on her official paid visit to Morgan State.

David Swank, the head of the infractions committee, said the school exercised a lack of institutional control.

"It involves the athletic department staff not paying attention to the rules. Part of it is people lacked the knowledge of the rules, and there was no effort to learn them," Swank said.

"The number of violations, spread out over a lot of sports over six years, made it more serious. The numbers hurt them."

Swank said Morgan has taken encouraging corrective actions.

For example, in August 1993, the school hired a full-time compliance coordinator in athletics. The school has eliminated coaching as a responsibility for its athletic director. It also has required staff members to participate in an NCAA compliance seminar, and has produced a policies and procedures manual for the athletic department.

"It's likely that the penalties would have been more severe if Morgan State hadn't shown that they've made a lot of changes in their athletic program and are trying to bring it into compliance," Swank said.

"We did everything we could to assist the committee," said acting athletic director Tanya Rush. "There are some things we really need to work on. And we're making every effort to strengthen our program."

Morgan State has the right to appeal the NCAA penalties. Rush said that school president Dr. Earl Richardson will decide if the school will file an appeal. Attempts to reach Richardson for comment last night were unsuccessful.

Among the infractions cited by the NCAA were:

* During the 1988-89 through 1993-94 academic years, 12 students from six sports who were not enrolled as full-time students competed while ineligible.

* During the 1989-90 through 1992-93 academic years, 13 students from six sports who did not meet academic requirements competed while ineligible.

* During the 1990-91 through 1992-93 academic years, 11 students from three sports who had not designated a degree program by the beginning of their third year competed while ineligible.

* The university routinely waived admissions processing fees at the request of the athletics department for most prospective athletes.

Among the penalties imposed:

* Limiting the football team to 50 scholarships, 13 fewer than the maximum of 63 allowed, during the next two academic years.

* Limiting the men's basketball team to 11 scholarships, two fewer than the 13 allowed, during the next two academic years.

* Limiting the women's basketball team to 13 scholarships, two fewer than the 15 allowed, during the next two academic years.

* The school also will have scholarships slightly reduced in men's and women's cross country.

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