MISSOULA — University of Montana President Royce Engstrom and Athletic Director Kent Haslam each wrote letters in response to sanctions slapped on the Grizzly football program by the NCAA.
Their letters follow:
July 26, 2013
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 at:
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
Athletic Director’s Letter
July 26, 2013
Dear Griz Nation,
The University of Montana athletic department is focused on three priorities: academic success, athletic excellence and service to the community. The release of today’s NCAA report changes nothing in that regard.
During the past year, we have celebrated conference championships and outstanding academic performance by our student-athletes. With the support of committed coaches, faculty and staff, Grizzly student-athletes continue to outpace the general student body in cumulative GPA, graduation and retention rates, and credit hours completed. We have moved forward together with deep resolve to get better each day.
Being the focus of an NCAA investigation has taught us that our athletic department can always improve its practices and procedures. We can be more efficient. We can be more effective in our training and community outreach. We have emerged stronger and more focused.
Here is how we will manage some of the penalties over the next few years. You can read the complete public report by visiting NCAA.org and looking under “Latest News and Recent Cases” in the Enforcement section.
During the academic years of 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, our football program will be limited to 59 full scholarships. The maximum number of scholarships an institution may award in the sport of football at the FCS level is 63. It is important to understand these scholarships may be divided among multiple student-athletes.
As a point of reference, over the four academic years of 2008-2012, UM awarded an average of 61.89 football scholarships. Last year, we awarded a total of 59.27 football scholarships. The tentative scholarship count for the upcoming academic year is approximately 61.
It has been and will continue to be our philosophy to award scholarship assistance to those student-athletes who a coach feels can be successful both academically and athletically at the Division I level. It has never been our practice to simply award financial assistance because a scholarship is available. The coaching staff will remain diligent in recruiting and use the 59 scholarships wisely.
2011 Football Wins
The NCAA found that ineligible student-athletes competed during the 2011 football season, so all wins after Oct. 23, 2011, will be vacated. This essentially means all public reference to those five wins will be removed. Any reference to a conference championship and NCAA post-season appearance will also be removed. However, the individual statistics for those student-athletes who were eligible to compete will remain.
It is the obligation of all of Griz Nation to promote and maintain a “culture of rules compliance.” We are relying on you to help us succeed – both on and off the field. If you have a question about rules governing intercollegiate athletics, don’t hesitate to ask. When in doubt, pick up the phone, send an email or visit the “Ask Grizzly Compliance” section of GoGriz.com where you can submit questions anonymously. We promise to get back to you quickly. We have expanded our compliance office; we are developing more educational programming; and we are improving communication to our broad fan base, including our staff, coaches and student-athletes.
Griz Nation is strong and healthy. I ask each of you to stay focused on the three priorities I referenced at the beginning of my letter – academic success, athletic excellence and service to our community. Today’s report brings to conclusion a chapter in the history of UM athletics. We look to the future. We will move forward undaunted as we focus on improving our athletic facilities, winning championships with integrity and graduating student-athletes who are leaders in Montana and beyond.
I ask each of you to join in. Let’s look forward to an exciting, compelling and successful 2013-14 academic year!
Director of Athletics
University of Montana