Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DEVELOPING: Howard University Suspends Student-Athletes (UPDATES With Athlete Assertion: "Every Team Has Students Ineligible")

Pending the ever-popular investigation and an internal review...

WJLA-TV in DC is reporting that a school spokeswoman says that the action is "self-imposed."

Their statement:

"It is with great regret that we have temporarily suspended intercollegiate athletic competition. This is a self-imposed action while the University conducts a review. We are working quickly to resolve this issue."

The Washington City Paper was first to let us all in on what's going on and the school has been abandoning games right and left in the last week.

The women's lacrosse team recently forfeited a March 30 game and one on April 1st. The softball team also had games with Norfolk State canceled as well.

Deadspin's Barry Petchesky discovered this note from the LaxPower message board:

Longwood was already on the road to Howard Friday when the LU coach received a terse phone call that the game was cancelled with no explanation whatsoever...Liberty was informed Friday about the same time that their Sunday game with Howard would not be played, again with no explanation.

In a bit of irony, here's an award-winning documentary on what it means to be a Howard Bison... the first line oozes irony...
((HT: MarshGoodyProductions))

More when we know more...

1615 UPDATE: Shani Hilton at City Paper knows more...

A member of the Howard bowling team says a senior athletic administrator told the team the university is investigating problems with textbook vouchers given to athletes. According to the bowler, the university allowed athletes to spend money that they didn't use on books on whatever they wanted, a possible violation of NCAA rules. The bowler says the university is demanding that any money spent improperly be repaid to Howard and that athletes won't be able to register for classes until they clear up the matter.

1650 UPDATE:
Hilton caught up with a compliance officer at another NCAA school who surmised: "For [Howard] to self-impose complete suspension, they must not have been doing anything in compliance."

1830 UPDATE: How's this for an update...???

Hilton and Maya Rhodan caught up with an athlete that claims that every sport has ineligible athletes on their rosters because the school hasn't kept track of the book voucher disbursement since 2010...

"The people who disbursed the money weren't properly overseeing the book vouchers," the student says. "Now that the budget is under scrutiny, and they're looking at all the money being disbursed, they're blaming it on athletes."

At no point, the student says, were athletes given guidance on how to spend their vouchers: "In order to take the heat off of them, [athletics officials are] pointing the finger at us."

The University has created an addendum to their earlier release...
It now reads...

"Howard University is conducting an internal investigation of possible NCAA rules violations. As a result of this process, the University temporarily withheld a number of student-athletes from competition as a self-imposed action. Most teams will compete as scheduled. We are working diligently to fully resolve this matter as quickly as a possible. In order to protect the integrity of this review, we are unable to share additional details at this time."

1850 UPDATE: Messrs. Yanda, Giannotto, and Bonesteel are chasing for the Washington Post currently...

They caught up with a softball player, who refused to be identified, and she said:
Ahem, quote:

“It’s been going on for a long time,” the softball player said. “A good majority of the athletes were taking advantage of this. There were some people who were saving the money. They didn’t spend it. Or some would go buy frivolous things, nothing that relates to school. Some people bought books and other school supplies.”

The Post's conversation with an ACC compliance officer rolled out the possibility that the actions on the Howard campus could be construed as a "lack of institutional control" if it is determined that compliance officers didn't do their jobs on campus.

Our friends at MyFoxDC caught up with some students on campus

Howard University Investigating Possible NCAA Rules Violations:

As did our friends at WJLA-TV

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