For decades, the athletic department at Division II West Chester (Pa.) University had been operating a swim club at the school from which it recruited athletes for its award-winning collegiate program, an NCAA violation for which WCU is not paying the price.
As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the school faces a $25,000 fine and delayed recruiting for one year in its swimming and diving program after it self-reported the violation.
NCAA regulations prohibit athletic departments or their booster groups from sponsoring a local sports club that includes prospective university athletes. West Chester violated regulations in two ways: allowing its athletic department to have “financial and managerial control” of the club and allowing a coaching staff member to coach at the club, the NCAA said, as reported by the Inquirer.
University officials said Friday that when the practice started in the late 1980s, it was not a violation. However, regulations changed in 1994. A new assistant athletic director discovered the violation last spring and the university reported it to the NCAA.
The NCAA's sanctions, handed down Friday, also include two years of probation for the school and a prohibition on renting the university’s swimming and diving facilities to a local sports club for two years. And the school must reduce its recruitment budget for the swimming and diving team by 25 percent.
The sanctions do not impact athletes’ ability to compete, only the university’s recruiting practices.
The West Chester men's team has won 23 conference championships since 1994, while the women have won 19, according to the Inquirer.
The university has hired an outside firm to conduct an audit of all university athletics, with a report expected next week.
“We have additional work to do to understand exactly what happened, when and why,” said Christopher Fiorentino, president of the more than 17,000-student university, as reported by the Inquirer. “We need to understand why it was not detected, and we need to be sure something like this would never happen again.”