- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 6, 2003

National Collegiate Athletic Association investigators yesterday visited the University of the District of Columbia inquiring about the school’s athletic program.

UDC spokesman Michael Andrews said two NCAA investigators arrived at the university about 9 a.m. and met with UDC legal counsel Clarene Martin and staffers throughout the day.

“They wanted to talk to some of the people associated with the athletic program,” Mr. Andrews said, adding that the school is cooperating with the investigation. He said he understood the interviews were to wrap up yesterday.

Mr. Andrews declined to disclose any other information about investigation.

NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes would neither confirm nor deny any information about the inquiry. “It is policy not to comment on any potential or ongoing investigation,” she said.

A university source familiar with the investigation said a faculty member had complained that a coach “was purchasing uniforms in a way that was not approved.”

“It appears some steps were short cut and, at this point, these are just allegations,” the source said. “Someone who doesn’t like one of the coaches contacted the NCAA and said purchases were made for [a] team not using the regular procurement process.”

But another university source close to the athletics department said NCAA investigators were responding to complaints about ineligible players on UDC teams, including the men’s basketball and soccer squads.

Among the complaints are charges that students participated on teams without carrying the required 12 credit hours of university courses and part-time students receiving financial aid — including athletic scholarships — for playing on teams, a violation of NCAA rules, the source said.

A third university source who has seen the NCAA complaints said they include charges of nonstudents receiving financial aid, no system to account for proceeds from ticket and concession sales, and grants for room and board being given to an at-home student. Investigators also are looking into the high turnover rate of UDC athletes who apparently are not advancing toward degrees, a violation of NCAA rules, the source said.

UDC President William L. Pollard, whom school officials advised of concerns about rule-breaking within the athletic department when he came to the school more than a year ago, was traveling on school business and was not available for comment yesterday.

In August, Mr. Pollard said an internal audit of the athletic program identified two ineligible players on the soccer team. The university reported the violations to the NCAA, which resulted in the mandatory forfeiture of 14 of the team’s 20 regular-season games.

The forfeitures erased from last year’s record books all but one of the UDC Firebirds’ wins and the team’s appearance in the NCAA Division II tournament. It was the urban land-grant university’s first NCAA appearance since the women’s basketball team qualified in 1995.

The Firebirds had finished the regular season with a 14-4-2 record and were ranked 18th in Division II, but the forfeitures resulted in a 1-18-1 season, the UDC Athletics Department said. The Firebirds had worked their way up through Division II rankings since the NCAA imposed a three-year probation on the athletics program in 1991 for 13 violations in five of its nine sports.

The audit also found an ineligible player on the men’s basketball team, prompting the NCAA to demand the forfeiture of one of the team’s 26 regular-season games. The team’s record fell from 19-7 to 18-8, the UDC Athletics Department said. The university last month advised opponents of the forfeitures.

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