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Haskell sports programs on probation through 2014

Published on -9/12/2012, 2:21 PM

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has put all athletic programs at Haskell Indian Nations University in Kansas on probation through 2014 for "violations involving ineligible players."

The penalty took effect Monday at the Lawrence school, said NAIA spokeswoman Kay Hawes.

No other information was provided on the association's website, and Hawes said specific information on violations and penalties is available only from institutions themselves.

University spokesman Stephen Prue said Wednesday that the school was drafting a statement.

In May, the school announced a Department of Education investigation into falsified student-athlete test scores had resulted in "official action on the employees and students involved." It was not immediately clear if the NAIA's action was related to that investigation.

In a news release at the time, the school said ACT scores dating back to 2008 were involved and that employees were "disciplined for manipulation of three other student transcripts." Two employees involved no longer work at Haskell, and some games were to be forfeited, according to the release.

The release also noted that changes had been made to the schools' database and admission process.

Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which overseas Haskell, didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment. Nor did Liz Utrup, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the NAIA handbook, the use of ineligible students leads to the forfeiture of "all contests in which the ineligible student participated." Athletes also lose at least one season of eligibility.

Institutions placed on probation also must submit a written response detailing the corrective measures they plan to take. Future violations can lead to the suspension of programs, a move that would bar them from postseason play, the handbook says.

Haskell is part of the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference. The conference's commissioner, Al Waller, said he knew few details about what happened.

"They've had some issues in the past with eligibility problems, so I think that's one of the reasons the NAIA came down pretty hard on them," he said.

He noted that many Haskell students come from schools on American Indian reservations.

"I know they have a lot of trouble getting information on student-athletes for eligibility purposes," he said. "We try to work with them as much as we can. We know it's not an easy situation."

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