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Suspensions Handed Down in Wichita State Apparel Case

Paul Sullentrop of the Wichita Eagle:

Eight Wichita State baseball players will miss games as the result of an NCAA investigation into improper apparel benefits.

The NCAA notified WSU of the penalties on Friday morning, four hours before its opening game of the season. Coach Todd Butler immediately began serving the suspensions by keeping junior catcher Tyler Baker and senior infielders Erik Harbutz and Dayne Parker out of the lineup.

In all eight players will be suspended for between three and nine games. In addition, another eight players had to pay restitution but will not be suspended because the amount of extra benefit they received was less than $100.

Wichita State got two breaks from the NCAA in player suspensions. First, the NCAA reduced the suspensions by half. Instead of missing 6, 12, or 18 games (10%, 20%, and 30% of a baseball season), the players will miss three, six, or nine games. The article says this was due to self-reporting the violations, but there would have to be another mitigating factor as well like lack of education on apparel ordering or the fact it was isolated to one employee.

Wichita State will also be allowed to stagger the suspensions because there were so many, particularly among the pitching staff. Five pitchers including three starters were suspended. Notice that the players which sat out immediately were the three position players. Like MLB suspensions, even games where a pitcher is not scheduled to pitch count toward fulfilling the suspension.

This ends the reinstatement portion of WSU’s infractions case, but the enforcement portion is ongoing. That sounds like it will still take a while, especially given that such widespread violations (including at least 16 current student-athletes) may be classified as a major violation (Level II if classified under the new enforcement structure).

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