CASTINE, Maine — Maine Maritime Academy has been placed on two years of probation and will vacate its participation in the 2009 Division III football championship after the NCAA discovered infractions at the institution.
The NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions reported Thursday that MMA failed to monitor the creation and awarding of four scholarships that considered athletics participation as a criterion. NCAA rules prohibit Division III institutions from considering athletics when determining a student’s financial aid.
The academy reported that from 2007 through 2012, a total of $6,150 was awarded to eight athletes. That included members of the football ($1,700), women’s soccer/softball ($2,950), men’s soccer ($1,000) and women’s cross country ($500) teams.
A fourth award totalling $6,500 was not issued to an athlete but was considered athletics by the NCAA.
And because the school did not oversee the creation and administration of the scholarships and did not educate campus personnel about NCAA rules, Maine Maritime was deemed to have failed to monitor its financial aid program.
“From the outset, we have approached this as an opportunity to grow stronger at the breaks,” MMA Director of Athletics Steve Peed said in a prepared statement. “In the two years since Maine Maritime self-reported to the NCAA, we have been implementing a system designed to prevent future violations.
“In the wake of our agreement with the NCAA we will bring in a consultant to not only bolster our rules education as called for by the agreement, but to test our system in order to make it stronger still,” Peed added.
According to MMA it was Peed who, as the newly appointed compliance officer at MMA, discovered the scholarship violations on Sept. 15, 2011. Those violations were self-reported to the NCAA.
“I am proud that we identified internally the mistakes that were made in the past that violated NCAA bylaws,” MMA President Dr. William J. Brennan said in a prepared statement.
“We accepted responsibility for the violations,” he added. “We immediately took corrective action to ensure that the integrity of Maine Maritime Academy is maintained. I am confident that no one at Maine Maritime Academy intentionally violated NCAA policies.”
The institution addressed the infractions and the NCAA ruling in a document on the MMA website.
Peed was hired as MMA’s athletics director in August 2012.
The NCAA explained that the case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort in which the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, the school and involved individuals must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having a formal hearing.
According to the NCAA, from 2007 through 2012, Maine Maritime considered athletics leadership, participation or performance as a criterion in four of its scholarship programs. Two of the scholarships gave preference to students who participated in athletics, while the other two required athletics participation before a student could be eligible for grants.
MMA’s vice president for advancement and the president, the only two individuals with the authority to accept financial gifts on behalf of the school, were unaware that the director of financial aid created one of the impermissible scholarships.
A former athletics director did not research NCAA rules before telling the vice president of advancement that one scholarship that considered athletics participation as criterion was permissible.
Another scholarship that gave preference to students who participated in athletics was established in 1994 and Maine Maritime acknowledged that it did not have the protocols in place to confirm that the scholarship complied with NCAA rules.
Further, Maine Maritime failed to educate campus personnel about NCAA financial aid rules. The lack of rules education and scholarship program oversight resulted in the school failing to monitor its financial aid process.
The MMA online document asserts “the NCAA found that Maine Maritime Academy did not violate NCAA rules with the intention of creating a competitive advantage,” but that the school did so through its actions.
The NCAA penalties include: Public reprimand and censure; two years of probation from Oct. 17, 2013 through Oct. 16, 2015; upon being hired, the vice president for enrollment services must attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar (self-imposed by the school); request a Level Two review from the NCAA Committee on Financial Aid. During this review, the committee looks closely at an school’s policies and procedures for awarding aid, as well as the impact of those factors on aid received by student-athletes (self-imposed by the school).
Also, MMA must engage a qualified outside entity to conduct a rules education session on campus.