NCAA penalizes Montana football over booster perks

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The NCAA said Pflugrad learned a booster had posted bonds for the two, but did not report it to university officials. NCAA officials also found then-athletic director Jim O’Day and the compliance director were aware that a booster was providing legal assistance to the players.

O’Day said he forwarded the findings and the president’s statement to his attorney for review, saying that he “found some of it to be quite interesting.” He declined further comment.

Pflugrad and O’Day were relieved of their duties in March 2012 without the university giving a reason. The school was notified of the NCAA investigation in January 2012, but it was not announced until May.

The NCAA also found that three couples who were university boosters provided meals for at least eight players on more than 100 occasions from 2004 through 2012, including one couple that gave standing Sunday dinner invitations to several players over the years. Another couple was found to have provided meals for three football players at their postgame tailgate gatherings from 2009 through 2012.

One couple provided a player with free storage space for a month along with meals, transportation, clothing and a small cash loan, while an assistant athletic director committed a secondary violation by providing a player with meals, snacks, lodging and laundry services, the NCAA found.

The NCAA also found that an undergraduate student assistant performed activities allowed to be performed only by coaches, effectively giving the team another coach above the 11 allowed by the FCS. The penalty is a reduction of two student assistant positions in one of the next two seasons.

Pflugrad cannot count the five vacated wins toward his career totals and Johnson and Kemp’s statistics from the games in which they were ineligible must be erased from the record books.

The NCAA investigation took place at about the same time the federal departments of Education and Justice were investigating the university for sexual discrimination and its response to reports of sexual assault.

The federal investigations were combined. The university agreed in May to revise its policies and training and adequately respond to sexual assault allegations.

“It is good to be moving forward and to have this situation resolved,” said Kevin McRae, spokesman for the commissioner of higher education. “UM’s student athletes, athletic department, and administration have the full confidence and support of the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Board of Regents. All these folks have worked very hard to get 2011 behind us and to feel good about the future.”

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