UW-River Falls Athletics Put on Probation

Created: 04/23/2014 4:22 PM KSTP.com

The NCAA placed Wisconsin-River Falls on probation for one year Wednesday, saying the Division III school failed to monitor the scholarship process and also allowed a former head football coach to be involved in arranging financial aid packages.

A Division III infractions committee said athletic ability was improperly used as a criteria for financial aid between the 2007-8 through 2011-12 academic years. That allowed five former or current athletes to receive a total of $4,090 in impermissible aid, a lengthy NCAA report said.

"A further major violation occurred when the institution allowed the head football coach to be involved in arranging financial aid packages for approximately four years," the NCAA said.

The probation period began immediately and expires April 22, 2015.

In a statement, River Falls Chancellor Dean Van Galen said that the school had self-reported the violations "as soon as we became aware that they had occurred and current university leaders have taken proactive and corrective actions to ensure that the previous errors will not be repeated."

An NCAA press release did not refer to the coach by name, and it was not immediately clear if the coach was identified in the NCAA report. The school's statement referred to the violations in connection with a former head coach.

Current head coach Matt Walker began at River Falls in 2011. He was preceded by John O'Grady, who had been at River Falls for 21 seasons.

O'Grady was recently hired at Wisconsin-Whitewater as a tight ends coach. Contact information was not listed for O'Grady on Whitewater's athletic department website. The Associated Press left messages for spokespersons at River Falls and the Whitewater athletic department.

According to the NCAA, River Falls also will undergo a review from the NCAA Committee on Financial Aid and an outside audit of athletic employment and scholarship practices.

River Falls "did not monitor its scholarship process when it did not adequately educate university staff involved in the scholarship process, allowed the head coach to choose scholarship recipients for four years and by failing to detect the violations," the NCAA said in a statement.

River Falls athletics director Roger Ternes said the school has implement measures over the last three years to improve compliance, including the establishment of "rules education workshops."

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