By Enrique Cervantes
Despite defeating the Cal State Stanislaus Warriors on penalty kicks for the California Collegiate Athletic Association championship title, the Cal Poly Pomona Broncos’ men’s soccer team season has come to an end due to a nullification process applied by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The NCAA notified CPP on Monday about the nullification process, brought on by an ineligible student-athlete who unknowingly competing in more than half of the Broncos’ games. Those games, being nullified, affect CPP’s winning percentage, pushing them out of a playoff seed for the NCAA Tournament.
The student-athlete’s eligibility was found to be affected prior to his enrollment at CPP in 2012, when he was recruited by the previous coaching staff before coach Yossi Raz took over.
“It was an amateurism issue,” said Jennifer Heimstead-Miller, assistant athletic director of compliance and internal relations. “When a student-athlete is interested in attending a Division I or II institution, they will answer a series of amateurism questions, and the NCAA will either certify them or clear them up.”
Through the NCAA, Bylaw 12 governs all amateurism issues. There are certain rules that determine a student-athletes amateur status, and all of them deal with expenses that affect the athlete, player, or receiving payments or benefits from boosters or outside sponsors.
“There are a quite a few legislations in Bylaw 12 that govern anything from agents to professional activities to commercial endorsements,” said Heimstead-Miller.
A common reason for these ineligibilities is outside inquiries. When someone asks a question about a student-athlete, it becomes the school’s obligation to look into it. The school then contacts the NCAA and sees if there is any new information regarding the student-athlete in question.
With the player being found ineligible, the NCAA ruled to nullify the games for the Broncos in which the student-athlete played. Nullification, however, is different from a complete forfeit. The Broncos’ record will not be touched, but their percentage is affected by eliminating the points earned from the matches.
“To qualify for postseason, you need to have a .500 winning percentage to even be eligible,” said Stephanie Duke, associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. “[The nullification] dropped our winning percentage below .500.”
The nullification process will only affect this season, preserving future seasons. Heimstead-Miller also believes that there will be no harsher penalties, though the school may have to pay fines.
“It won’t affect our win-loss record,” said Duke. “From a record standpoint, our record won’t change.”
Heimstead-Miller touched on how CPP will be more hands-on with determining an incoming student-athlete’s amateur status.
“Every institution can do it differently,” said Heimstead-Miller. “I think during the recruiting process, we’ll probably evaluate a student’s amateurism. Generally, you leave it to the NCAA to verify it, but we’ll back it up further and make sure the student-athletes know what they need to provide.”
Duke spoke on how Athletics will become more thorough in their processes, including the entire recruitment and admission process for future student-athletes.
“Upfront for us, we’ll do our part, from the recruitment to admission phases,” said Duke. “Again, this wasn’t the current coaching staff; this was the previous coaching staff. We feel confident that our coaches we have in place right now know the kids and the history of the kids they’re recruiting. But if we see gaps in enrollment, we’re questioning them.”
The Broncos will still keep their CCAA Championship for now, as the conference works through a committee. With that committee, they will hear everything CPP has to offer, and they will decide the fate of the Broncos’ first conference championship.
Courtesy Bronco Athletics
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