Wrestling program placed on probation by NAIA

By on Feb. 17, 2012 in Wrestling

Wrestling program placed on probation by NAIA

Concordia University, Nebraska received official word from the NAIA National Eligibility Committee Feb. 17 that its wrestling program violated rules pertaining to ineligible student-athletes. Concordia initiated the process by submitting a report to the NAIA after discovering that unattached wrestlers had received accommodation benefits from the university, a violation of NAIA rules.

As a result of the ruling, the wrestling team will be placed on probation for the remaining weeks of this season and for the 2012-2013 season.  Also, the five current wrestlers who received benefits from Concordia will be charged with one season of eligibility.

Student-athletes might participate as unattached wrestlers because they are taking a redshirt year, for example, or if their academic status does not yet meet minimum student-athlete requirements. While it is permissible for unattached wrestlers to participate in open wrestling tournaments, they must themselves provide for such things as travel, food and any hotel costs.

Concordia’s investigation determined that its former wrestling head coach allowed unattached wrestlers to sleep on the floor of hotel rooms purchased by the university for other team members. The coach also used institutional funds to purchase plane tickets for two wrestlers whose eligibility was still in question on the date of the trip. The trip took place between the first and second semesters of current school year. The investigation indicated that the former coach enforced all other requirements for unattached athletes and that the athletes adhered to them.

Concordia’s former head wrestling coach was placed on administrative leave Jan. 20 while an investigation was conducted by the university. He resigned his position Feb. 9.

“Our investigation convinced us that our wrestlers had no idea this was a violation, that they intended to abide by all the rules, and that they did in fact meet all other conditions for unattached participation,” said Devin Smith, athletic director.

“We deeply regret that our failure to educate and enforce this rule properly will negatively affect these student-athletes by costing them a season of eligibility. Probation for the team in general will not affect the remaining wrestling schedule for this year or the schedule next year.

“Bottom line, we are committed to following NAIA rules completely," Smith added. "We have already taken steps to ensure that this will not reoccur.”

The Bulldog wrestling team will compete as scheduled at the NAIA North Region Championships tomorrow, Feb. 18.