Manhattan College Violates NCAA Athlete Eligibility Rules

Former president Brother Daniel Gardner. MANHATTAN.EDU/COURTESY

By Andrew Mannion, Asst. Sports Editor

Manhattan College announced it was in violation of multiple NCAA rules, resulting in several of the college’s Division I teams being put on probation, and the college having to pay a $5,000 fine. 

The violations concerned inadequate student-athlete eligibility, as well as coaching and recruiting violations. 

In the negotiated resolution between Manhattan College and the NCAA, it stated that Manhattan “did not clearly identify or assign an individual who had primary responsibility over athletic academic certification after the departure of the former director of compliance.” 

Ultimately, the resolution claimed that the athletics staff believed responsibility for athletic academic certification belonged with athletic academic advising, and athletic academic advising staff believed the athletics compliance officer had the responsibility. 

According to the resolution, the misunderstandings led to Manhattan’s failure to properly ensure student-athletes were academically eligible. 

Further violations were discovered throughout the initial investigation. This included an assistant coach recruiting athletes before completing a mandatory coaches exam. There was also a private lesson given by a former softball coach to a high school athlete who had not yet begun their junior year of high school. Both of these instances are violations of NCAA regulations. 

The violations ended with penalties from the NCAA, which was noted in the negotiated resolution. These included a $5,000 fine, two years of probation, a 16-day prohibition period for softball recruiting in the June/July contact period, a five-year show-cause order against the former softball assistant coach and a vacation of all records which was earned by a student-athlete that was competing while ineligible.

In response to the violations, then-Interim President, Daniel Gardner, released a statement on the violations. He apologized for the college’s mistakes in the athlete eligibility department. 

“I would like to apologize to our student-athletes, coaches, staff, opposing teams, alumni, athletic fans and the entire Manhattan College community for this unacceptable institutional failure,” Gardner wrote in his statement. “While today is a difficult day for Manhattan College, it bears repeating that, per our NCAA membership responsibility, we self-reported our potential violations to the NCAA enforcement staff, we worked cooperatively with them throughout the process, we acknowledged our responsibility where we fell short and we accepted the consequences for our actions.”

Since the violations were announced in June, Manhattan parted ways with its former athletic director Marianne Reilly, and welcomed Irma Garcia to take over the department. 

Garcia made it clear to The Quadrangle that she wanted to handle these allegations moving forward. 

After being announced as the interim director of athletics in June, she faced negotiating the violations with the NCAA. 

“’I am a real believer of rules and regulations,” Garcia said. “The NCAA gave us a resolution for us to follow. It’s very easy. We slowly are implementing things to make sure that we’re following the rules, and that we’re checking and double-checking [that we are all following the rules].” 

Garcia told The Quadrangle that the incident has inspired better communication in the athletic department. 

“It was the great thing about it. It forced us all to really communicate with each other to find out who’s doing what and how we can enhance the betterment of the student-athletes because, at the end of the day, it’s about the student-athletes giving them the best experience that they possibly can get,” Garcia said. 

Garcia also stated that the college has been taking specific steps to make sure that the college does not get caught in violations again. She mentioned the promotion of Matthew Raidbard, who was recently elevated to senior associate for compliance, academics, and wellbeing of student-athletes. Raidbard will oversee much of what was previously in violation. 

Garcia believes these violations are in the rear-view mirror for the program, and she is excited for the upcoming year.

 “I’m excited about the future year, it’s incredible,” Garcia said. “I think President Milo [Riverso] has it. He knows what he wants. He wants to get us to another level and really get what I want to see in this place, the branding and the message that we’re here. We’re not going to go anywhere and people should know that this place is just a beautiful place.”

The violations will have no effect on any current athlete’s eligibility or any team’s participation in regular and postseason games. Manhattan College has made it clear that they have learned lessons from the violations, and are using them to better the future of the athletics program.