Boise State University is in big trouble. IdahoStatesman.com is reporting that the University recently revealed it has been under investigation by the NCAA since 2008. The regulatory body has alleged 22 violations involving five sports, including the highly touted Boise State Bronco football program. The allegations include at least one major violation.
Due to the pervasive nature of the infractions, seemingly throughout the entire athletic department, the NCAA has charged BSU with a very serious "lack of institutional control."
The problems for BSU began in 2008 when an employee reported the University to the NCAA. Former Boise State track assistant Amy Christoffersen said that she began trying to alert University officials to the violations in 2005, but that her concerns were disregarded. She refused to sign an attestation that she was unaware of violations, so she emailed the NCAA.
Within weeks, an investigator was onsite questioning her about school policies. Interestingly, the investigator had questions about the school's contractual relationship with Idaho Sports Medicine, an orthopedic group. The precise nature of the inquiry into the contractual relationship with the physician group is unknown.
Although details are still somewhat sketchy, the 39-page complaint alleges improper recruiting practices including meals, transportation and lodging. Although the total dollar amount of the alleged infractions is quite small, less than $5,000, the pervasive nature of the infractions involving track and field, tennis and football, among other sports, is creating a lot of press and raising concern throughout Boise.
Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier and University President Bob Kustra, have come out publicly to assure anxious fans that BSU takes the rules very seriously and considers compliance to be a top priority. However, it may be too late for the school to avoid sanctions. A hearing before the NCAA is scheduled for June.
Boise State has been mired in controversy the past few years. Recently, Sports Illustrated published the results of a four year investigation into college football and players with criminal records. The Broncos were identified in the report as ranking fourth in the nation for the number of players who have had criminal charges filed against them.
Also, last season, Bronco linebacker Winston Venable was suspended by the Western Athletic Conference for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit that left an Oregon State player unconscious on the field.
In 2009, Bronco Byron Hout apparently taunted Oregon's LeGarrett Blount resulting in the Oregon running back throwing a punch, knocking Hout out momentarily. The incident was captured on national television and resulted in Blount being suspended for much of the rest of the season and Hout being disciplined by the team.
In 2008, Bronco Jeron Johnson was ejected from a game against Oregon for a flagrant flying helmet-to-helmet hit. Three Oregon players had to leave that game due to injuries sustained from especially aggressive helmet-to-helmet hits. These incidents resulted in a series of articles in several publications about head injuries in football and helmet-to-helmet hits.
The Boise State Bronco football program has enjoyed an unprecedented string of wins over the past decade and has been ranked among the nation's top programs for the past two years. Their march toward a BCS championship was derailed when they lost to Nevada in November 2010.
Unfortunately for Boise State, the NCAA may level sanctions within the next several months. How severe the penalties will be is still uncertain. But, judging from the punishment metered out against USC last season, they may be quite significant.