Stephen F. Austin Hit With “Death Penalty” Over 82 Ineligible Student-Athletes

The school will give up heaps of victories, scholarships, and money

Stephen F. Austin
Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks fans during a game against the Duke Blue Devils on November 26th, 2019 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
By Luis Paez-Pumar / May 25, 2020 8:00 am

The NCAA has flexed its considerable institutional muscle in the direction of Stephen F. Austin State University this week, hitting the Texas-based school with one of the harshest penalties in history. The reason? The NCAA found that, from 2013 to 2019, SFA had fielded 82 ineligible student-athletes across a variety of sports.

The ineligible players constituted what the NCAA calls a “Level 1 violation,” which allows the organization to bring down the proverbial hammer on any school found culpable. In a statement, the NCAA blamed a lack of institutional control for the violations:

The university was found to lack institutional control because it did not adequately monitor and control the athletics eligibility certification process, failed to properly apply academic certification rules and did not involve staff members from outside of athletics in the certification process.

The punishments are harsh: Stephen F. Austin will forfeit hundreds of wins across four sports — men’s basketball, baseball, softball, and football — as well as three men’s basketball conference championships. It will be placed on three years’ probation, it will pay a fine of $5,000, and it will have to return 50 percent of its earnings from the 2016 NCAA Tournament. ESPN has the full list of punishments beyond that, including a reduction in scholarships.

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