The Stanford Athletics program has been hit with a pair of major violations (Level II) for rules infractions. It's the first time in the university’s history that the NCAA has determined Stanford committed high level violations.
According to a letter sent out by Howard E. Wolf, the president of the Stanford Alumni Association, "Stanford will be penalized for two violations that occurred in 2014 and will be fined $5,000. One involved the softball team practicing more than the 20 hours per week allowed by NCAA rules. The other involved a football student-athlete receiving impermissible benefits from his summer landlord, including a ticket to the movies and restaurant meals with the family, use of a local vacation home, and a loan to purchase a bicycle."
John Rittman, who later resigned, was coaching the Cardinal softball team at the time. Devon Cajuste came forward on his own to accept responsibility for the football infraction.
"I am the student-athlete involved in the violation," Cajuste said in a statement. "I unknowingly accepted impermissible benefits from my summer landlord. I look forward to moving on from this incident and to supporting my alma mater for many years to come. I will have no further comment on this matter."
Cajuste, who caught 90 passes at Stanford, is currently on the practice squad of the Green Bay Packers after initially signing with the San Francisco 49ers.
Wolf added "In both cases, Stanford discovered the transgressions, conducted internal investigations and then self-reported the infractions to the NCAA. In addition, Stanford administered self-imposed penalties and took corrective actions, all before the NCAA delivered its ruling. Furthermore, in the course of their investigation, the NCAA commended Stanford for these efforts."
Rittman, now an assistant coach at Kansas and with the USA national softball program, was also dragged into the middle of a sexual harassment inquiry, a fracture among team members and various other team problems, all reasons believed to be responsible for his departure.
As it turns out, it was the NCAA violation that forced his removal, something that came up in a players-parents meeting with Cardinal Athletic Director Bernard Muir and was later refuted by other players who claimed the excessive practice time was voluntary.
In Muir's statement, "In the spring of 2014, the university began an internal inquiry into the softball program after learning of concerns from student-athletes and parents regarding the management of the program.
"In the course of that inquiry, the university found evidence of excessive practice hours and that the now former head coach disregarded NCAA limits on the number of hours that student athletes could participate in sport-related activities. The university self-reported the violation to the NCAA.
"As a result of the inquiry, the head coach was asked to resign and did so, and the contracts for the assistant coaches were not renewed. The university also self-imposed a penalty of significant limitations on softball practice hours under the new coaching staff. The university also added an additional full-time compliance staff member to Stanford Athletics to increase monitoring and verification of practice hours for all student-athletes, including reviewing practice logs and unannounced observations of practices."
Cajuste's violation has resulted in several changes to Stanford football's summer housing program.
Muir wrote "In the summer of 2014, the university discovered that one student-athlete had received impermissible benefits from his landlord in violation of NCAA rules. Impermissible benefits valued at under $400 included restaurant meals with the landlord’s family, movie tickets with the family and the use of a local vacation home. Another impermissible benefit was a loan to purchase a bicycle which, at the time of the review, had already been repaid."