NCAA levies sanctions against Kean athletic teams

The NCAA levied a host of penalties Thursday against Kean

University in a 26-page report that charged the school with failing

to exert control over its athletic department.

Among the sanctions were a four-year probation period for all

athletic teams and a postseason ban next season for the women’s

basketball team. Kean previously imposed sanctions, including

banning its men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams

from postseason play this fall.

The report found that while student-athletes made up less than 4

percent of Kean’s student body in 2010-2011, they received about 17

percent of financial aid during that period.

But most of the infractions cited in the NCAA report occurred in

the women’s basketball program under former head coach Michele

Sharp, who was fired from the position in January. She had led Kean

to the national Division III playoffs six times. As part of the

penalties, the team’s 24-5 record in 2010-2011 will be vacated.

Sharp was reassigned to another position at the university and

is still employed there, a Kean spokesman said Thursday.

”We will comply with all of the NCAA’s directives in a spirit

of cooperation and true sportsmanship,” athletic director Chris

Morgan said in a statement. ”The University has no plans to appeal

the decision, and we will work diligently to ensure all reporting

required as part of the probationary period is handled in a timely

and efficient manner.”

The NCAA report found Sharp violated rules by interceding to get

a player’s grade changed and offering players class credits for the

team’s summer trip to Spain. The university’s approval of the trip

for credit constituted an extra benefit since it was only offered

to team members, and so was the university loaning nine players

money to help pay for the trip, the report concluded.

Sharp ”consistently failed to work within the athletics

department structure,” the report concluded.

The NCAA imposed a four-year ”show-cause” period that requires

Sharp to attend ethics training if she is employed by another NCAA

member institution and it restricts her contacts with non-athletics

department personnel. She also would be suspended from the first

two conference games of each season during the four-year period if

she returns to coaching.

Sharp couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday evening.

As a condition of the school’s four-year probation, Kean will be

required to develop a program to educate athletes and staff on NCAA

rules and submit an annual compliance report.