The infractions cited in the NCAA’s recent sanctions may seem minor, but for many blameless Nanook athletes it’s the end of postseason dreams.
The NCAA came down hard on University of Alaska Fairbanks for a list of eligibility infractions that took place from 2007-12. These infractions included things like transfer students not having enough credits, or being enrolled in school without a declared major.
The penalties include a $30,000 fine, a postseason ban this season for several sports, reduced scholarships, three years’ probation, and public reprimand and censure.
Former student athletes, now deemed ineligible, may regret the loss of personal records, but this postseason penalty falls on those who joined the team long after their day. Athletes and Most of the Athletics Department staff left to sort the mess out ,were not here when the infractions took place.
“The sanctions blind-sided the athletic program,” said senior guard Joe Slocum. “None of the players were expecting any bans.”
Slocum, who was supposed to be the leader of the young Nanooks basketball team that had to replace seven senior players from last year, is redshirting this season, saving one more year of eligibility.
“I want to have one last chance to get to the tourney with my brothers.” Slocum said.
In a jointly signed letter sent out to the students of UAF, Chancellor Brian Rogers, Athletic Director Gary Grey, and Vice Chancellor Mike Sfraga ,explained the sanctions, and what they mean to our athletic program.
“These penalties will present great challenges to our programs,”stated in the letter. “these penalties are, understandably, discouraging, despite this setback i believe in our teams, our coaches and the university staff members who support them.”
Rogers said the infractions were simply “the results of university errors and not due to any wrongdoing by any of our student-athletes.”
“Our student-athletes are high academic achievers,” the chancellor said. “They have integrity in their sport, they have higher GPAs than the student body as a whole. They graduate at higher rates as a whole.”
“I’m proud of the student-athletes and the infractions are the university’s responsibility, not theirs, and they’re old news,’’ he added.
Nine of UAF’s ten teams face the infractions imposed by the NCAA.Women’s Cross Country is the only sport unaffected. Although the runners are not being penalized, they are still supportive of teams who are effected.
“I feel really bad for the teams who are undergoing sanctions from the NCAA,” said Nichole Bathe, who stars in two sports here at UAF; women’s cross country and skiing.”These are extremely harsh punishments; it has been a tough time for the Nanooks.”
“To the teams that it hit the hardest,” Bathe said, “keep playing strong and push through this.”