NCAA comes down on TSU

July 16, 2008 3:00:08 PM PDT
The NCAA has penalized Texas Southern for major violations in its softball and tennis programs. The softball program was placed on four years of probation Wednesday and is banned from postseason play in 2009. The men's and women's tennis programs were disbanded in the spring of 2007 and will lose one scholarship in each of the next two academic years.

The tennis penalties, which were self-imposed before the the report, may be irrelevant. Athletic director Charles McClelland said the school has no immediate plans to revive the tennis program.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions said Wednesday the former head coaches of the softball and tennis programs committed violations the school didn't detect. The violations included impermissible benefits and financial aid and lack of institutional control.

The NCAA said the former softball coach allowed an academically ineligible player to participate in 47 practices and nine games during the 2004 season. In five games, the player participated under the name of an injured, eligible player who had left the team. The ineligible player also received more than $1,500 in impermissible benefits when she traveled with the team and received textbooks at no cost.

The softball team was also ordered to forfeit the victories in which the ineligible player participated. The NCAA's report also said former tennis coach Alberto Rojo Jimenez lured international recruits by promising full scholarships that weren't available.

Jimenez provided $19,000 in impermissible benefits and aid to 22 student-athletes, using scholarship money, personal funds and money from sponsors, the NCAA said.

The NCAA said that the money eventually ran out and some of the international players were no longer able to afford "basic necessities." The report said three of the players faced eviction from their apartments and "were reduced to subsisting on bread and water because they had no money for rent or food."

Both coaches were long since fired in the wake of the allegations.

McClelland, who took over as athletics director at Texas Southern in April, said he has hired a compliance consultant to clean up the school's athletics department.

Texas Southern fired AD Alois Blackwell in February. The school received five academic performance warning letters from the NCAA in 2007.

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