Football Program Compliance Update

Football Program Compliance Update

The following statement was issued to Jacksonville University students, faculty and staff on November 14, 2014 at 6:00 p.m.

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To members of the Jacksonville University Community:

We have recently made great strides toward excellence in many aspects of our University, and for that I express my deep appreciation to all of you for your hard work and commitment.   This has been an especially encouraging week, with a successful education conference in our Public Policy Institute and our inaugural Global Citizen celebration.  Today, I share with you a different type of update:  one related to an area where we need to do much better.

During a recent examination by the University of its overall financial aid practices, the current administration determined there were irregularities with respect to our football program, and we immediately launched an independent review.  The results of that review, which we just recently received, regrettably revealed that previous senior administrators awarded financial aid in the form of scholarships to football players in apparent violation of Pioneer Football League (PFL) rules, which specifies all schools play “non-athletic scholarship” football. Furthermore, these actions created an inherent unfairness to our competitor colleagues in the PFL.

Less than ten days ago we met face-to-face with the commissioner of the PFL and presented what we knew. That meeting was professional and cooperative, but firm.  I am sorry to inform you that due to these violations, we are voluntarily withdrawing our football team from consideration for any post-season play. Tomorrow’s game against Campbell will be our last game of the season.

Our student-athletes and their families have done nothing wrong, they are members in good standing of our JU family, and this makes the burden of this decision that much heavier. We are sorry that the actions of those no longer with the University have led to this decision but, knowing what we know now, we are committed to doing the right and honorable thing for all the student-athletes in the league, just as we would expect them to do in similar circumstances.  Because of the urgency of the coming close of the season and out of respect for the other schools in the PFL, we came to a cooperative decision with the PFL commissioner to make the announcement today.

We are cooperating fully with the PFL and its review process and will await their findings and recommendations before taking any further actions.  We are putting new plans, personnel and procedures in place to make sure something like this cannot happen again.

To be clear, we can all be proud of the extraordinary work of our faculty, our staff, and our remarkable and talented students who make this University so outstanding. Our dedication to excellence within the classroom and in how we conduct ourselves as individuals and University citizens will see us through and drive our commitment to improve and move forward during this challenging period.  I ask you to support your fellow students and friends.

In a meeting earlier today, our football team was notified of the decision. Tomorrow, I invite you all to come out to show support for your classmates in their final game of the season. They have demonstrated tremendous determination, sportsmanship, character and superior skills on the field.

Despite this decision made today, they are champions at our University.  Let’s please continue to work together to achieve the potential of the promising path we are on.

Thank you for your continued support of Jacksonville University.

Tim Cost '81

President

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to financial assistance players have received?

They will continue to receive financial assistance as always. They have not done anything wrong and we will honor our commitment to them.

Will the football program be shut down?

No. We have no plans to discontinue the football program, but we are committed to doing things the right way.

What happens to the coaching staff?

We are engaged in a review process with the PFL and there is still not enough information to know what all of their findings will present, however, we have enough information from our own assessment to know that it was previous senior administration officials who were the principal decision-makers in the improper awarding of financial aid to football players. 

Will the league take any further action?

Jacksonville University is cooperating fully with the PFL and are working within their review process.  They will appoint a committee to review this. Final resolution is expected in the Summer of 2015.

Do the players have any options?

There were no NCAA violations discovered or reported, so current NCAA legislation still applies.  Student-Athletes are able to request a permission-to-contact letter that will allow them to speak to other institutions with regards to transferring.  If a student-athlete transfers to a NCAA Division I institution, during his first year of enrollment at that institution, in general, he will be able to practice but not compete.  If a student-athlete transfers to a NCAA Division II or III institution, or a NAIA institution, he may qualify for an exception that will allow him to practice and compete during his first year of enrollment. 

Why now? Why withdraw from the championship?

We have only just now come to this conclusion about our financial aid actions in the past and we have come to a cooperative decision with the PFL as a result.  We are sorry that the actions of those no longer with the University have led to this decision but knowing what we know now, we are committed to doing the right thing for all the student athletes in the league, just as we would expect them to do in similar circumstances.

What’s next?

The University will complete our regular season and withdraw from any postseason play should our team’s record earn that consideration.  We anticipate that the PFL will finish their review in early Summer of 2015. We plan on fielding a competitive football team in 2015 and hope that you will be a part of it.