By Brian Murphy
© 2011 Idaho Statesman
In 2009, after working with the NCAA to comply with its rules regarding summer housing of incoming football players, Boise State was forced to report 23 additional violations before the season opener with Oregon or face the possibility of using ineligible athletes and thus possibly vacating victories in the future.
Here’s how it happened (according to documents obtained by the Idaho Statesman):
On June 8, 2009: Boise State reported to the NCAA that several incoming football players over the previous four years “received housing and transportation” from current football players.
The incoming players were participating in summer workouts. Football coaches and staff members asked current players if they had a place for incoming players to stay. Rent and accommodations were handled between the incoming and current players.
The situation gave incoming players more flexibility than attending Boise State summer school since they could come and go based on their (and their families’) summer plans, Boise State coach Chris Petersen told school and NCAA enforcement staff.
“Petersen stated that he believed voluntary summer workouts were a benefit to the prospective student-athlete because the prospect could become acclimated to the institution and the football team,” Boise State writes in its roughly 1,500-page response to the NCAA.
“However, Petersen did not believe this was a competitive advantage for the football team because most true freshmen do not participate in intercollegiate competition during their first season.”
The football staff was surprised to learn that the summer housing arrangements were a violation.
In most cases, incoming players slept on a couch or floor. The 40 violations involved $4,934 in impermissible benefits, ranging from $2.34 to $417 for each individual. The money has been repaid and donated to charity, Boise State said.
From 2004 through 2008, the school did not monitor summer living arrangements for incoming players. In 2009, the compliance staff began requiring prospects to document their living arrangements.
As long as incoming players were not receiving free or reduced-cost housing, transportation or food, the Broncos thought they were in the clear.
In the summer of 2009, incoming players lived with current players and paid a full share of the rent. Boise State believed this was in accordance with NCAA rules.
However, in August, the NCAA told Boise State that if coaches had helped to arrange the summer housing, it was a violation.
“Forwarding the name of the student-athlete to the prospect constitutes an impermissible arrangement for a benefit that is not otherwise permissible for a prospect in this situation, even if the prospect pays the rent,” was the rule interpretation.
Boise State does not believe the interpretation is correct and said it was led to believe by the NCAA staff that the procedures in place were sufficient.
“The University was (and still is) surprised to learn that the NCAA enforcement staff was contending that violations occurred in the summer of 2009 based on the involvement of the football coaching staff when no extra benefit was received by the involved prospects,” the school writes in its defense.
But with the 2009 season about to start, Boise State faced a problem. It could report the 23 violations (that it did not believe were violations) and seek reinstatement for those players before the season or it could allow the student-athletes to compete and argue its case. If the Broncos lost that case, they would face “serious consequences” for allowing ineligible athletes to compete.
So Boise State self-reported an additional 23 violations on Aug. 31, 2009 — just days before the Sept. 4 game against Oregon, which Boise State won 19-8.
“The University remains troubled by the manner in which this portion of the investigation played out, and is genuinely perplexed as to how its coaches could be determined to have ‘arranged free or reduced-cost housing’ when no free or reduced-cost housing was ever provided,” Boise State writes.
As a result of the violations, Boise State will reduce its number of scholarships by three over the next two seasons and reduce by three the number of preseason practices before the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The NCAA Committee on Infractions can add to those penalties after Boise State's June 10 hearing in Indianapolis.
Summary of charge against football program:
• 2005: 2 incoming football players received $95.16 worth of impermissible housing and transportation.
• 2006: 8 incoming football players received $772.60 worth of impermissible housing and transportation.
• 2007: 17 incoming football players received $2,352.21 in impermissible housing and transportation.
• 2008: 13 incoming football players received $1,719.03 in impermissible housing and transportation.
• 2009: 23 incoming football players received full price housing arranged by football coaches and staff members.
• NCAA: Boise State lacks institutional control
• Boise State imposes penalties on athletics as result of NCAA probe.
• Boise State plans to show it has control of its athletic department.
• The NCAA alleges major misconduct in the women's tennis program.
• Read Boise State's self-imposed sanctions. It starts midway down page 1.
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