The NCAA says Thomas More College, winner of two straight Division III women's basketball championships, will have to vacate all 33 wins for the 2014-2015 season because it used an ineligible player.
Consequently the school was stripped of its national title for that season.
College President David Armstrong, J.D. said it involved star player Sydney Moss and former assistant coach Jerry Allen.
According to the NCAA:
"Thomas More College failed to monitor its women’s basketball program when it did not identify and report a women’s basketball student-athlete living impermissibly with a former assistant women’s basketball coach, according to a decision issued by the Division III Committee on Infractions. The head women’s basketball coach also failed to fulfill his head coaching responsibilities when he did not monitor the former assistant coach and did not promote an atmosphere for compliance in his program."
In addition to vacating the wins, the NCAA says Thomas More will be on probation for two years and have to pay a self-imposed fine of $2,500. Other penalties are listed here.
The NCAA says, for eight months a former assistant coach (Jerry Allen) provided free housing to a student-athlete (Sydney Moss) while she recovered from surgery. "Even though the former assistant coach and his family had an existing relationship with the student-athlete, NCAA rules do not allow college employees to provide cost-free housing to student-athletes," according to the release.
At a news conference Armstrong told reporters the school accepts responsibility but told the governing agency it needs to clarify its rules. "The College experience in this case demonstrates that the NCAA bylaws and interpretations about the impact of pre-existing relationships between institutional personnel and student-athletes are not sufficiently clear."
Head Women's Basketball Coach Jeff Hans says he is "concerned not for himself, but rather for the members of our women's basketball team who worked so hard to achieve a remarkable feat of winning the 2015 NCAA Division III National Championship."
Armstrong is convinced the team will get through it. "Everyone talks about how good they are at basketball, and they are. But they are 1,000 times better ladies and our coaches are 1,000 times better people and I think that you're see these young ladies respond like they always do to adversity."