Ball State University on NCAA probation

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The NCAA placed Ball State University on a two-year probation after finding the university's student-athletes misused about $27,000 in scholarships for books for other non-scholarship students between 2003 and 2005, according to Tom Collins, director of intercollegiate athletics at Ball State.

"It was a textbook issue where student athletes were taking out more textbooks than they were entitled to," Collins said.

Eighty-nine students playing 10 different sports at the Muncie, Ind. university used about $26,944 in funds through the book loan program, according to the NCAA's press release.

Every semester, student-athletes receive a $1,000 balance from the bookstore. Some students who didn't use all the money bought books for their friends, the NCAA said.

These students were found with multiple copies of books or textbooks for classes they weren't taking.

The university noticed the book loan fraud through a routine audit, said Kevin Burke, Ball State director of communication. He said the university turned itself in to the NCAA.

"The NCAA requires institutions to become aware of particular rules violations to report it, so we did," Burke said.

Burke said the students were suspended and all the books involved were returned.

Collins said the consequences of the probation include giving up three football scholarships over the next two years, a monetary reduction in a men's tennis scholarship and a reduction in women's softball practice time.

The NCAA also cited the women's softball team for extending its practice time over the maximum 20 hours a week, Collins said.

The women's softball coach did not count student work on campus and fundraising as athletic activities, thereby going over the 20 hour limit, the press release said.

"The Committee on Infractions believed that the scope and nature of the violations demonstrated a failure to exercise institutional control in the conduct and administration of the book loan and softball programs," the press release said.

The press release also said the university did not monitor the students' use of scholarship money from spring of 2003 to spring of 2005.

According to Ball State's handbook students are to use book funds on "required books only," and "students may not charge any other books or supplies to their 'book loan' account."

Collins said the university now has a system in place to make sure students use the scholarship money correctly.

"The students are fine," Collins said. We just need to manage our way through it."

The case was solved by the summary disposition process, which is used when there is agreement between the university and the NCAA, rather than through a formal hearing, the press release said.