Potsdam State penalized for rules violations, issues statement Sunday

A report from the Associated Press says the NCAA has penalized the State University of New York at Potsdam for violations of financial aid rules involving men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer programs.

Penalties in this case include two years probation and a postseason ban.

During the 2008-08 and 2009-10 academic years, the NCAA stated the university awarded financial aid packages to student-athletes “in a pattern clearly distinguishable from the general pattern of all financial aid for the general student body.”

 The committee noted that the violations were unintentional, but represented a significant competitive advantage.

The university awarded the scholarships in the form of International Initiative Grants, which were designed to increase the presence of international students enrolled at the university.

On Sunday, school president John F. Schwaller issued a statement regarding the rules violations:

“SUNY Potsdam, a Division III school, has been informed by the NCAA that it inadvertently violated an association bylaw. The College is working closely with NCAA officials to bring the institution into compliance.

“The violation relates to SUNY Potsdam’s International Initiative Grant, which is given to all international students through a blind review process. The program has been found to inadvertently benefit a slightly higher proportion of student-athletes compared to the number of international students in the entire student population. SUNY Potsdam’s international community consists of primarily Canadian students due to the close proximity to the Quebec/Ontario border, and serves a large number of undergraduate and graduate students from these provinces, many of whom are interested in participating in the College’s athletics program.

“As our International Initiative Grant is currently structured, it does not favor any student over another, and in its findings the NCAA points out that this violation was unintentional, and the institution, the athletes and our employees were found not to have purposely sought to advantage College athletics through the program.

“As part of its mission, SUNY Potsdam will continue to support all international students who wish to pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Potsdam, and is committed to finding a solution that satisfies the NCAA while protecting the rich educational and experiential opportunities available to all students at SUNY Potsdam.”