NAIA: DSU did not break rules for athletesA performance audit of Dickinson State University states that the school did not commit any National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rule violations in its awarding of tuition waivers to student athletes.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
A performance audit of Dickinson State University states that the school did not commit any National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics rule violations in its awarding of tuition waivers to student athletes.
The North Dakota State Auditor’s Office contacted the NAIA during its performance audit of the university, which was released Friday, after discovering DSU has been awarding a higher percentage of Cultural Diversity and Global Awareness tuition waivers to student-athletes than to students who were not involved in intercollegiate athletics.
The auditor’s office asked DSU to submit its information to the NAIA twice for compliance checks and recommended DSU report what it stated to be “apparent violations of requirements.”
“We reviewed the information that was supplied to us and found that no violation had occurred,” said Matt Hanson, director of legislative services for the NAIA. “It was not a self-report. It was simply an inquiry from the institution as to whether we felt that there was the existence of a violation.”
DSU athletic director Tim Daniel said the audit findings were reassuring.
“As an athletic department, we’re happy to see that we’re in compliance with what these rules and regulations with the NAIA are, as far as it relates to the financial aid and scholarships,” Daniel said. “That was something that was brought to our attention as a possible discrepancy and so, by communicating with the NAIA, we found that we weren’t. It’s reassuring we’re doing the things we’re supposed to be doing as far as the rules and regulations of the NAIA.”
The audit states that 100 percent and 75 percent Cultural Diversity tuition waivers were made exclusively available to student-athletes while other students receiving the waivers are typically awarded 50 percent or 25 percent.
A 100 percent Global Awareness tuition waiver was also made available exclusively to student-athletes, according to the report. Non-athlete students received 53 percent, 41 percent or 20 percent waivers.
Article II, Section B of the NAIA Bylaws states: “Scholarships, grants-in-aid, and student loans shall be awarded on such bases as will not discriminate for or against presumed or recognized athletes.”
The audit stated that the NAIA director of legislative services responded, in writing that, “‘Based on the information at hand, Dickinson State University is not in violation of NAIA financial aid regulations in Article II, Section B,’ of the NAIA Bylaws.”
Hanson said what DSU was doing did not violate NAIA rules because it was awarding the waivers to all eligible students, regardless of involvement in athletics. He said the NAIA cannot regulate the amount of financial aid an institution chooses to award student-athletes and athletes not involved in athletics.
“What would be a violation is if you have a general scholarship and an athlete is chosen over a non-athlete simply because the non-athlete was a non-athlete or the athlete was chosen simply because he or she was an athlete,” Hanson said.
Majority of Roughrider scholarships found to be awarded to athletes
The audit determined that approximately 87 percent of the $350,000 in Roughrider Scholarship funds DSU awarded for the 2009-11 biennium was paid to students participating in athletics or the club rodeo program.
The audit states that DSU “made awards to students which were inconsistent with the established guidelines for the scholarship.”
The guidelines identify a maximum award of $1,000 per school year to a student.
The audit confirmed at least one student-athlete, which memos obtained by The Dickinson Press in August stated to be a former DSU volleyball player, received a $4,000 Roughrider Scholarship for one school year.
The scholarship was approved by DSU’s former President Richard McCallum and appeared to have been made to replace a $5,000 per school year athletic scholarship that was revoked when the player left the volleyball team.
Roughrider scholarships guidelines state the funds are available only for DSU enrollees who were high school graduates and community college transfer students. The audit identified Roughrider scholarship awards made to “various individuals” who did not meet those requirements.
Other examples included awards made to dual-credit students who were still in high school, students who lost other scholarships or tuition waivers, students who had won Christmas card writing contests and other individuals who were not incoming students.
Audit states Orton tried to cancel China trip
In April, the DSU men’s basketball team made a 10-day trip to China to play two games against Northwest Agricultural and Forestry University in Yangling, China, as part of — what was referred to by DSU officials — a “friendship tour.”
The audit shows that adequate funds were not raised to pay trip expenses and that the basketball coach, Ty Orton, made several attempts to cancel the trip.
Despite these attempts, the report states McCallum “insisted the team go.”
The audit states approximately $65,000 from the men’s basketball fund supposedly raised was being used to pay for the expenses.
However, the audit states that no such funds had been raised and, “DSU relied on statements from the former president indicating funds were going to be raised to pay for the entire trip.”
Because of this, at the end of the 2011 fiscal year, the DSU men’s basketball team had more than a $43,000 negative cash balance.
“It’s not a question of the responsibility of the basketball team to fundraise,” Daniel said. “They fulfilled their obligation. Other obligations that are out there did not take place.”
Orton said Friday he could not comment.
Following the team’s China trip, it was found that DSU no longer receipts their basketball camp income in accordance with State Higher Board of Education policies.
Money from camps that had been deposited into the men’s basketball fund was used to pay expenses for the team’s trip to China. Following the trip, such income was being receipted with the DSU Foundation office.
The audit states a recommendation and DSU officials agreed that those funds must again be managed according to SBHE policies.
DSU President D.C. Coston was not available for comment.