MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin placed itself on three years' probation Friday for NCAA rules infractions uncovered during an investigation sparked by revelations that athletes received unadvertised discounts at a shoe store.
In addition to the probation, which requires the university to submit annual reports to the NCAA on its progress in meeting compliance rules, the school penalized itself $150,000 that it will pay the NCAA and stripped five scholarships over the next three years -- four from football and one from men's basketball.
The university's report on the investigation was sent to the NCAA in Indianapolis for review, and further sanctions could be imposed. Because the university was put on probation in 1999 for its second major rules infraction since 1994, the school is subject to the NCAA's repeat offender clause. That makes the school eligible for stiffer penalties, including the so-called "death penalty" -- the rarely imposed elimination of a sports program.
"I think what we hope is we've done enough to ourselves. Whether they accept that is anybody's guess," said Melanie Newby, vice chancellor for legal and executive affairs, who led the investigation.
NCAA spokesman Wally Renfro said the governing body will study the report and the Committee on Infractions will have final say over any other penalties.
Other infractions uncovered included improper housing assistance for football recruits who had already signed a letter of intent to play football and were on campus the summer before enrolling in school. The university also found athletes returned school-issued apparel to The Shoe Box for store credit.
The discounts date to at least 1993, and Chancellor John Wiley said the problem should have been uncovered when allegations were first brought to the university's attention in 1999.
Tim Bald, the school's compliance officer, visited the store to speak with owner Steve Schmitt about rumors circulating in the athletic department of huge discounts for athletes. But the university failed to recognize a series of clues that should have tipped them off to a problem, Wiley said.
"That itself should've been a red flag for a department already on probation," Wiley said.
So far, the probe has found that 157 athletes in 14 sports violated NCAA rules by accepting at least $23,000 in unadvertised discounts and, in some cases, no-interest credit arrangements that weren't generally available to other students at The Shoe Box, a discount store 25 miles northwest of Madison in Black Earth.
Schmitt, who qualified as a university booster under NCAA guidelines because he has donated about $13,000 to the athletic department since 1988 and is a basketball season ticket holder, offered athletes discounts of 25 percent to 40 percent or more. Other university students generally paid listed prices or received 10 percent discounts, the Wisconsin State Journal found in an investigation that prompted the university's probe.
All of the athletes were ordered to pay a charity the amount of their improper discounts. Some athletes also were punished with suspensions and community service.
The university also reduced by one the number of coaches in football, men's basketball, women's basketball and wrestling who can recruit off campus for a year.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.