The Eastern Washington University Eagles may fly into the playoffs this season after all.
Tuesday, in a rare penalty reversal, the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Infractions Appeals Committee overturned a 2009 postseason ban that another NCAA panel had imposed on Eastern Washington’s football team.
In February, the Division I Committee on Infractions punished the institution because Paul Wulff, former Eagles head coach and current head coach at Washington State University, had allowed four players who did not meet the NCAA’s academic qualification to practice with the team and receive financial and housing assistance. Also in violation of NCAA rules, the football team had too many coaches. Wulff was chastised by the committee for failing to report these violations after he had been made aware of them. Eastern Washington was also reprimanded for having an inadequate compliance system in place to prevent such violations.
The Infractions Appeals Committee noted in its public report that the Committee on Infractions had based its postseason ban of Eastern Washington “substantially on its judgment” that the violations provided its football team with a “significant competitive advantage.” But the majority of the players who practiced with the team, despite NCAA rules, “never competed for the team or competed in a limited capacity.” Only one player competed for the team after his eligibility had been reinstated.
In reversing the ban, the Infractions Appeals Committee stated that “while the violations provided some competitive advantage, the conclusion that the advantage was ‘significant’ was a clear error of judgment, such that the imposition of the postseason ban was arbitrary.”
The system works, I guess?