Individually, the violations would likely not have prompted action, but taken as a whole, they were considered worthy of investigation, said Wendy Taylor May, head of the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions.
Prospective members of the track team who were not yet enrolled at ACU were allowed to live in on-campus housing, at a discount, and were given athletic shoes by the team's head coach, Don Hood, according to the report released by the NCAA Division II Committee on Infractions.
In addition, international students were invited to and received gifts at a party hosted by members of Hillcrest Church of Christ, including the assistant coach. According to the release, Hood did not realize the Christmas gifts would be considered extra benefits, and were donated by members of the church who wanted to help the international students who could not be with their families during the holidays.
"The heart of this university and of its alumni and friends is a compassionate one, and when our people see students in need, whether they are student-athletes or not, it is natural for them to react in a Christian manner, offering help where they see a need," ACU president, Dr. Royce Money, said in a press conference following the NCAA's announcement. "However, we recognize it is our responsibility to do an even better job educating such friends about NCAA rules regarding what many might see as simple acts of kindness."
The investigation was prompted by a "self-report of violations" by the university.
"(The university is) on a path to make sure none of this happens in the future," May said.
One student athlete is said to have received $545 from a "representative of the university’s athletic interests." Other students received what's described as "academic assistance" from members of the coaching staff in order to meet NCAA academic requirements.
The penalties against ACU are as follows, reported by the NCAA:
• Public reprimand and censure.
• Two years of probation (February 12, 2009 to February 11, 2011).
• The university shall vacate all wins for the football program for the games in which the student-athletes receiving academic assistance competed from the time they became ineligible in the summer of 2007 through the point where they were reinstated by the NCAA. The vacation shall apply to all regular season, any post-season conference or NCAA football championship. Additionally, the university’s records regarding football, as well as the record of the head coach at the time the vacated contests were played, will be reconfigured. This vacation will be recorded in all publications in which football records are reported, including, but not limited to, media guides, recruiting material, electronic media and institutional and NCAA archives. Any public reference to these vacated contests should be removed from the athletics department stationary, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear.
Note: The new record for the 2007 season is 0-3
• Reduction in men's and women’s track and field scholarships to 10.5 (from 12.6) in each sport during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. (Self-imposed by the university.)
• Track and field head coach may not recruit off campus more than 12 days during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. (Self-imposed by the university.)
• Reduction in official visits for men’s track and field program. For the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years, there may not be more than 21 official paid visits. Ten official visits may be taken in one academic year and 11 may be taken in the other at the university’s discretion.
• Reduction in official visits for the women’s track and field program. For the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years, there may not be more than 23 official paid visits. Eleven official visits may be taken in one academic year and 12 may be taken in the other at the university’s discretion.
• For the sport of football, there cannot be more than 60 official paid visits during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
• Limit of five international student-athletes on the roster of any athletics team during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years. (Self-imposed by the university.)
• University must pay a fine of $2,500
• Select members of the track and field and football coaching staff must attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar within the first year of probation.