UAF hit with penalties for NCAA violations

The University of Alaska Fairbanks said Friday that an investigation into its athletic programs revealed violations that were committed both within the Division I hockey program and other Division II athletic programs.

The NCAA imposed a list of penalties that includes three years of probation, a $7,500 fine and vacation of team and individual records that included ineligible student-athletes.

The Nanooks will not lose any scholarships and will not be subject to any competition or postseason bans. UAF officials said the current 2021-22 athletic seasons were not affected by any of the missteps that led to the violations.

UAF Chancellor Daniel White said in a news conference that the university identified potential violations in January 2021 and continued the investigation along with the NCAA.

“As soon as potential violations were discovered, corrective actions were taken and all student-athletes that competed this year were eligible,” he said.

The violations committed by the hockey program included 18 student-athletes from 2018 to 2021 and are categorized as impermissible benefits. White said the issues largely involved temporary housing and transportation benefits that occurred when students arrived on campus and before the semester started and dorms were available.

“The kids want to get involved and get into their seasons as soon as possible but there’s a correct way to ensure that’s done appropriately,” Nanooks athletic director Brock Anundson said.

The Division II violations were failures of academic certification and failure to monitor violations.

They included 42 students from 2017 to 2020 and included 77 total instances. They largely involved student-athletes being allowed to practice or play before their academic certification or certification of amateur status were complete.

“All student-athletes became eligible, the question was if they went to a game or workout before it was complete,” White said.

White said each of the violations individually were considered minor, but taken as a whole they rose to a more serious level.

The penalties were imposed following a negotiated resolution between the school and the NCAA, the first process of its kind used in DII.

“We are required by the NCAA to self-report infractions,” White said. “It’s part of maintaining the integrity of our program. If we make a mistake, we own up to the mistake.”

The three-year probation period includes a number of requirements the Nanooks must meet, according to Anundson.

He said the school must develop a program to educate and train, publicize the infractions during the probation period. UAF must also inform the recruits of infractions and penalties and maintain reporting requirements.

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.