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Ogden • The NCAA has slapped Weber State's football program with three years of probation and the loss of nine scholarships after an investigation revealed academic irregularities involving five players.
Weber State has also been fined $5,000, plus 2 percent of the football program's operating budget. But the Wildcats retain their postseason eligibility, and first-year coach Jay Hill and his staff face no recruiting limitations.
"We take full responsibility for the incident," Weber State president Charles A. Wight said in a statement. "While we regret that it occurred, it is reassuring to know the systems we have in place quickly detected these unethical activities. We must remain vigilant going forward."
Weber State self-reported instances of academic fraud to the NCAA in August 2013. What was described as academic dishonesty by football players revolved around a math class.
According to the NCAA, which issued its ruling Wednesday, a Weber State math instructor violated ethical conduct rules when she completed coursework for five student-athletes.
During the investigation, the players told investigators they received hints about the proper approach, formulas or help with quiz and test answers.
The math instructor admitted the football players gave her their computer usernames and passwords. She used the information to log in to their online math courses and complete tests, quizzes and exams.
At the conclusion of the semester, an adjunct instructor in one of the math classes noticed a student-athlete completed six quizzes and a final exam in less than one hour an uncharacteristic pattern for that student.
The events led to a full review of the developmental math program and the discovery that the instructor provided assistance to other student-athletes. Weber State charged the five student-athletes with academic dishonesty and issued them failing grades for the course.
The school became aware of the problem when Jody Sears was the football coach. He was fired after the 2013 season and replaced by Hill.
"At Weber State, we hold our students, faculty and staff to the highest level of ethical and professional conduct," Wight said. "This investigation found that, in this case, a former adjunct instructor failed to uphold those standards."
Weber State is 2-9 heading into its season finale on Saturday at Idaho State. The Wildcats lost nine straight games before putting together their first winning streak since 2011 with back-to-back victories over North Dakota (24-12) and Northern Colorado (34-21).
On Wednesday morning's Big Sky Conference call with the media, Hill said he was "very unaware" of possible NCAA sanctions when he took the job last winter.
Going forward, Hill said, "It's an issue we will deal with."
Asked if the situation would impact the progress of the program, he said, "Absolutely not."
Weber State sanctions
Penalties imposed on the football program Wednesday after a yearlong investigation into academic irregularities:
• Public reprimand and censure.
• Three years of probation through Nov. 18, 2017.
• A fine of $5,000 plus 2 percent of the school's football program operating budget.
• A reduction of nine football scholarships.
• A five-year show-cause order for a math instructor who assisted football players with their classroom work. During that period, if the instructor works for a member school and has responsibilities in its athletics department, the school must appear before a committee panel.