NCAA on men’s track: Cheating went on for seven years

Records set by the men’s track and field team will be removed from the record books because of violations committed between 1997 and 2004, the NCAA announced Thursday. Sixteen of 22 student-athletes involved in the violations finished in the Top 10 in 43 events at the the NCAA Division I indoor and outdoor track championships, according to a NCAA release.

The NCAA D-I Committee on Infractions also placed the TCU athletics program on probation for two years.

“We accept the committee’s findings and sanctions,” athletics director Danny Morrison said in a TCU press release. “Now that the NCAA investigation is complete, we can close the chapter on this unfortunate incident in our track and field program and focus on moving forward under the leadership of new head coach, Darryl Anderson.”

The Flyin’ Frogs will be banned from competing in the postseason as a team during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons, although the individual athletes can compete as individuals, according to the NCAA. The university also placed its own sanctions: It reduced the men’s track scholarships to 10 full scholarships for the next two years, lessened the number of recruiting trips by men’s track and field coaches and reduced the number of visits by prospective male track athletes, according to the press release.

Former head track and field coach Monte Stratton was fired in September 2004 for allegations of violating NCAA rules. Assistant coach Brad Bowman subsequently resigned.

The NCAA said the violations were committed between 1997 and last year.

Former athletics director Eric Hyman, now the athletics director at the University of South Carolina, could not be reached for comment.

The violations cited by the NCAA include a former assistant coach taking a final exam and writing a paper for an athlete in 1997, and other assistant coaches either writing or editing admission essays for recruits between 1999-2004.

The NCAA said that from 2000-2004, the coaching staff made several $100 monthly payments to foreign athletes to help them pay federal taxes and, other payments ranging from $109 to $700 to help athletes pay off-campus housing costs.

The NCAA also said Stratton directed his staff to give recruits thousands of dollars in cash, merchandise and airline tickets.

“The former head coach’s purpose in providing these inducements and benefits was to gain an unfair competitive advantage,” Gene Marsh, chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, told The Associated Press. “These impermissible activites were used to recruit, retain and ensure the eligibility of a significant number of world-class student-athletes.”

Chancellor Victor Boschini said it is important that the entire university reflect TCU’s mission to educate ethical leaders and responsible citizens, according to the press release.

“There’s no doubt that TCU’s athlethic administration is and has long been among the best in higher education,” Boschini said. “This was a regrettable anomaly in one program, and it certainly should not happen again. We will now advance under the able leadership of Dr. Danny Morrison and his staff.”

Morrison said that because the athletics department takes pride in its intergrity, it was disappointing to find out about the violations.

“When I arrived here in June, I was very impressed with TCU’s response to the situation,” Morrison said. “As soon as TCU found out, they took immediate action.”

Anderson said the runners who qualify for postseason competition can participate individually.

He said the program will be able to compete as a team in the postseason in two years.

Morrison said he is excited about Anderson’s guidance.

“Coach Anderson has shown great leadership to get this behind us and focus on the future,” Morrison said.

The university is already taking measures – such as educating staff and monitoring them – to prevent something like this from happening again, Morrison said.

“The best thing for us to do,” Morrison said, “is to hire people with integrity.”

Amy Willey and The Associated Press contributed to this article