NCAA to review Boise St. sanctions

BOISE, Idaho -- The NCAA said Friday it will reconsider scholarship sanctions imposed on Boise State's football program.

In a 25-page decision, the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee concluded that the scholarship penalty announced last September, in addition to Boise State's self-imposed sanctions, was "excessive such that it constituted an abuse of discretion."

Boise State's voluntary measures included three fewer scholarships for the 2011-12 school year and fewer preseason practices. The NCAA added scholarship reductions from 85 to 82 through the 2013-14 school year and limited contact during spring practice.

The university appealed the additional sanctions for the football program, arguing that the NCAA's history of scholarship reduction penalties was inconsistent with penalties imposed in the case of Boise State. The appeals committee agreed.

"Of the 10 cases that involved the FBS and reductions of football grants-in-aid over the past five years, only two had reductions of grants-in-aid in football as great or greater than those imposed in this case," the panel found.

The appeals committee upheld the spring practice penalty while remanding the scholarship sanctions back to the infractions committee for reconsideration.

"We are pleased that the Appeals Committee agreed in the case of the scholarships. We will await a decision from the Infractions Committee on the final scholarship penalty," Boise State president Bob Kustra said.

Boise State has not been given a timeline for when a new decision will reached, said university spokesman Frank Zang.

The NCAA cited major violations by the football program and other sports last year when placing Boise State on probation for three years and imposing other sanctions. The violations occurred over a five-year period.

At the time, Kustra said Boise State's rapid growth over the last decade, from an upstart Division II program into a perennial Top 25 team, likely outstripped the school's capacity to keep tabs on its compliance with NCAA rules.

Kustra, who fired athletic director Gene Bleymaier in August, said he'd hoped the self-imposed sanctions would have been enough to avoid probation. Boise State appealed the football portion of the NCAA sanctions, while accepting the punishment placed on its tennis and track programs.

Boise State has since revamped its NCAA compliance efforts, hiring additional staff and implementing an educational program, the university said. The school has also made changes to its student-athlete handbook, while heightening training and awareness programs, officials said.

"The entire process has deepened our commitment to compliance, resulted in tangible changes to our program and created a greater awareness of the NCAA rules," athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement.