NCAA upholds Boise State scholarship sanctions

BOISE, Idaho — The NCAA has rejected an appeal from Boise State and is standing by its decision that the football program must reduce the number of scholarships it hands out this season and the next.

The Division I Committee on Infractions announced the decision Wednesday and in the process rejected an appeal filed by the school stemming from a broader package of sanctions handed down by the NCAA last year.

As part of the penalty package, the NCAA ordered the football program to cut scholarships from 85 to 82 for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. The school had already self-imposed the scholarship reduction for last season.

Still, Boise State lawyers argued that the scholarship sanction was excessive, especially when compared to past infraction cases investigated by the NCAA.

But NCAA officials denied that the Boise State case has direct comparison to any past cases.

“While past infractions cases and their respective penalties are part of the institutional memory of the Committee … when it tailors the penalties in a case, they do not provide a `one-size-fits-all’ measure of whether a penalty is fair and appropriate,” the committee said in its report.

“Each case — and the fairness of the penalties imposed in each case — ultimately stands on their own facts,” the report stated.

The decision upholding the sanctions is the latest twist in the case in which the NCAA found a lack of institutional control.

After Boise State’s appeal, the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee concluded in June that the scholarship penalty, in addition to Boise State’s self-imposed sanctions, was excessive and teetered on an abuse of discretion. That committee sent the case back to the Committee on Infractions for reconsideration.

Boise State did not immediately respond to messages left Wednesday by The Associated Press. The school has the option of appealing Wednesday’s decision.

Boise State — which is 4-1 this season, ranked No. 24 and takes on Fresno State on Saturday — has been dealing with the penalties despite the appeal process. The school imposed that scholarship reduction in 2011 and took the penalty again this year.

The infractions case focused on a series of violations involving more than 75 athletes and several men’s and women’s teams over a five-year period. Violations ranged from recruiting infractions to impermissible transportation and lodging, and prompted the departure of longtime athletic director Gene Bleymaier.

Since then, the university has bolstered its oversight and hired a new director of compliance. The school has also made changes to its student-athlete handbook and put new emphasis on education and awareness programs for athletes.

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