Maine Maritime Academy is the latest school to be put on probation for major violations of Division III’s ban on athletic scholarships. But compared to many recent Division III aid cases, Maine Maritime’s violations are a step above.
A common pattern for Division III financial aid violations was a scholarship program which had no athletics criteria, but ended up going almost exclusively to athletes. Multiple Division III major infractions cases in the last few years involved scholarships which targeted Canadian students. But when reviewing who received the scholarships, the recipients were almost exclusively members of the institution’s hockey team.
In Maine Maritime’s case, two of the four scholarships under question required athletics participation at the school. There were in essence athletic scholarships even if they were not being given out by the coaching staffs. Another gave preference to current student-athletes and the fourth gave preference to incoming students who had participate in high school athletics.
Three of the four scholarships were created recently enough that Maine Maritime had records of how they were justified. In all three cases, the focus was on recruiting. Two athletics directors, without much research into NCAA rules, reasoned that as long as the scholarships were not used to recruit athletes, they were permissible. That is obviously not the case in Division III, which even prohibits awarding an outsize portion of a scholarship to athletes. The fourth scholarship was created back in 1994, and so the school was unable to determine why or even if it was deemed permissible at the time.
Penalties included two years of probation and the school was required to conduct an outside rules education program. The football’s appearance in the 2009 Division III football tournament was also vacated.