NCAA clears the record regarding FPU's professional development program/Association president says no intent to malign FPU

NCAA President Myles Brand went further in a letter to FPU President D. Merrill Ewert. "President Brand suggested that as a former president himself he understood my concerns and wanted to express the regret of NCAA President's Office and the members of the Committee on Infractions regarding any 'inferences that may have been drawn regarding the reputation of [Fresno Pacific],'" Ewert said. Brand is a former president of Indiana University and the University of Oregon.

Brand wrote Ewert that there had been no intent to malign FPU. The NCAA has removed the offending part of an earlier press release as well a small section from the final report. The NCAA has also posted the newest statement in the "For the Record" section of its website. "President Brand indicated that this is the feature that the NCAA uses 'to correct misstatements or factual errors that we find from time to time in media stories,'" Ewert said.

On August 20 the NCAA placed the University of New Mexico on three years probation and cut five scholarships for academic violations involving two former assistant coaches. The NCAA concluded that in 2004 the coaches fraudulently attempted to help three recruits obtain academic credits through FPU correspondence courses.

The report from the Committee on Infractions warned institutions to take "due diligence" in accepting FPU courses. Fresno Pacific, however, does not offer undergraduate credit for correspondence courses, Ewert noted the day after the report came out, and went on to point out FPU went well beyond what was required in helping the NCAA with its investigation. Ewert sent a letter to the NCAA demanding a correction and an apology for misrepresenting FPU's program.

The NCAA contacted FPU in early 2005 asking about students without naming any colleges or universities. The NCAA determined correspondence courses from FPU were misused in cases involving two other universities, as well. FPU determined that all athletes under investigation took courses during the same time period and from the same independent contractor. FPU canceled the instructor's contract in 2005.

The courses were listed in university materials as "university credit offered through the Center for Professional Development for workshops and conferences. This is post-baccalaureate; not part of a degree program."

Professional development has been a valued part of FPU for 30 years. "More than 12,000 educators each year use these courses as they are intended: to advance their students' education, their careers and the education profession. In all that time, this is the first we've heard that anyone misused these courses," Ewert said.

Ewert appreciates the NCAA effort. "I thank the NCAA for setting the record straight. I'm grateful President Brand took the time and trouble to determine the truth and make it public," he said.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations