River Falls gets probation for financial aid violations

More news about: UW-River Falls
UW-River Falls' violation did not involve current Falcons football players, or the current coach.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

By Pat Coleman

UW-River Falls failed to adequately monitor its financial aid process, according to an NCAA report, and will face one year of probation.

Violations occurred primarily in football, and according to Dave Cecil, chair of the NCAA Division III infractions committee and associate vice president for financial aid at Transylvania University, occurred entirely under the previous head football coach, John O'Grady.

One of the resulting penalties is that current coach Matt Walker is required to attend an NCAA Regional Rules seminar, even though he did not start work at UW-River Falls until Jan. 3, 2011, and all of the football-related violations occurred prior to his employment.

When asked if O'Grady, who is currently an assistant coach at UW-Whitewater, would also have to attend a Regional Rules seminar, the NCAA moderator cut off the question and would not take a follow-up. The NCAA report does not indicate any action in that area.

For at least four years under O'Grady, from 2007-08 to 2010-11, money was awarded in the form of a scholarship to former football players who were on staff as student assistant coaches. According to the report, there was one documented case of aid as "an academic award to a junior or senior at the institution who 'participated in [the institution's football program],' " going to a football player who had not exhausted his athletic eligibility.

"Over the past three years we have implemented measures to improve compliance in regards to rules education and monitoring including participation in NCAA financial aid education programs and the establishment of rules education workshops for numerous university departments," said UW-River Falls athletic director Roger Ternes, who also is required to attend a Regional Rules seminar. "University leaders have also worked closely with the NCAA, the UW-River Falls Foundation, and our donors to remove all language associated with athletics leadership, participation, and performance from scholarship criterion."

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