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Students watch and cheer on Caltech athletics.
Caltech, home of Nobel Prize and Fields Medal winners … and a technically naughty sports program. The Caltech Beavers baseball team has lost 227 games in a row, while the men’s basketball team recently snapped a 310-game conference losing streak – so striking an event that President Obama called to congratulate them, even though Caltech had beaten the president’s alma mater, Occidental College.
Now it turns out that the athletic program is in hot H2O over NCAA infractions – and on top of that, the school turned itself in. Nowadays NCAA infractions usually mean cars and cash lavished on football players at behemoth programs like USC or Ohio State. In this case, the culprit is a paper one -- Caltech’s own class registration system.
NCAA athletes have to be fulltime students to play, and at Caltech, at the start of each trimester, students can “shop” for classes before being required to register for them. And that, Caltech says, means they are not technically fulltime students. Some 30, in fact, have played in the last five years without meeting that eligibility technicality. Wouldn’t you take your time in deciding between a class on muons and another on string theory? Thought so.
Caltech faces a one-year postseason ban for sports in which ineligible players competed as well as a one-year ban on off-campus recruiting, three years of probation and a $5,000 penalty. It’ll be a crushing blow to the NBA and its recruitment of very tall chemistry majors, we’re sure.
Did the NCAA come down too hard on Caltech even though they self reported the infractions?
Frank Girardot, editor in chief, Pasadena Star News
Vanessa Romo,education reporter, KPCC