The following is UM President Engstrom's letter regarding NCAA Penalties against the University of Montana:
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Today the NCAA announced the conclusion of its investigation, begun in January 2012, into the University of Montana’s athletics department. The Division I Committee on Infractions handled this matter through summary disposition, which is the NCAA’s cooperative and streamlined process.
The NCAA determined that we failed to monitor our football program, finding instances of playing ineligible student-athletes, provision of extra benefits to some football players, and exceeding coaching limits on a limited basis. Penalties imposed include vacating certain game wins from the 2011 football season, a limit on football scholarships for three years, and probationary status for three years. The NCAA news release and report can be found here: http://ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/enforcement/resources/resources+homepage.
As President, I take seriously the responsibility of ensuring that UM offers a dynamic learning environment that is second to none, including strong academics and strong athletics. Even before the end of the NCAA investigation, we instituted changes. We expanded our athletics compliance office; we are developing more educational programs; we are improving our communications with staff, coaches, student-athletes, fans, and supporters; and we are improving facilities for these students. We will work to ensure that we are in full compliance, and we intend to continue strengthening our culture of compliance.
Under the leadership of Director of Athletics Kent Haslam, we have pledged to build a superior and effective athletic program with students who are known for their contributions to their sport, to the classroom, and to the community. We are proud of our student-athletes, and I consider athletics integral to the fabric of the Montana experience.
The resolution of the NCAA investigation is welcome, and it reinforces our focus on excellence at UM. I can assure you that our athletic program has never been stronger. Indeed, in addition to their successes on the field and the court, our student-athletes just posted their 16th semester of having a GPA of 3.0 or higher – which is better than our overall student population. Not only that, they also devoted more than 700 hours to community service just last year alone.
The conclusion of the NCAA investigative process – following last May’s announcement of our agreements with the U.S. Department of Justice on unrelated matters – marks an end to this chapter in UM’s history. Many faculty members, staff members, and students have worked hard this past year and a half on new processes and policies across campus, on new training, and on new communication tools. Our campus is stronger, safer, and more vibrant than ever.
Royce C. Engstrom
University of Montana