Florida International faces four more years of probation because it used 45 ineligible student-athletes in 15 different sports, the NCAA announced Wednesday. The Golden Panthers must vacate any of the wins they collected while using ineligible players.
The school already was serving a probationary period that was scheduled to end May 20. Florida International's probation now will last through May 19, 2012. The NCAA cited Florida International for using ineligible athletes from the 2002-03 school year to 2006-07.
Florida International's violations occurred as the school was making the move from the Division I-AA level to the Division I-A rankings. The Golden Panthers made the move to Division I-A within four years after the school launched its football program.
NCAA officials said Florida International didn't expand its compliance department as its athletic program grew. The NCAA also indicated that the personnel making eligibility certification decisions at Florida International weren't properly educated on NCAAA rules and were basing their choices on a software system that didn't always contain all the relevant information.
"Upon discovering these violations, we put in place new compliance procedures that are much more suited to the university FIU has become in the last 10 years," FIU president Modesto A. Maidique said. "We now have the level of staffing and the redundancies that will prevent these types of infractions from occurring again in the future."
The NCAA is recommending that the Sun Belt Conference conduct an audit of Florida International's compliance programs halfway through the school's probationary period.
Florida International misapplied rules pertaining to full-time enrollment, progress-toward-degree requirements, the "five-year" eligibility rule, squad lists and transfers, the NCAA said. Florida International also over-awarded scholarships in men's soccer, women's soccer and women's golf from 2004-05 through 2006-07.
The penalties include scholarship reductions in 11 sports. Florida International's self-imposed scholarship cuts include a loss of three grants-in-aid for football and one for men's basketball. Other programs losing scholarships include baseball, men's soccer, softball, women's golf, women's swimming and women's soccer.
These scholarship reductions are separate from any penalties the school might face in regard to its Academic Progress Rate, said Josephine Potuto, the chair of the NCAA infractions committee. The NCAA released the APRs of each school Tuesday and noted that Florida International lost three scholarships in football and one in basketball.