NCAA Hands Oregon T&F & Other Programs Two-Year Probation

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On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that the University of Oregon athletic department has been placed on probation through 2020 due to violations incurred by the women's track and field program, along with the women's and men's basketball and football teams. The women's track and field violation involves academic misconduct dating back to 2016 that appears to be related to former Oregon sprinter/jumper Jasmine Todd, who was ruled academically ineligible shortly before the 2016 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field West Preliminary Round.

As part of the violation, the Ducks now must vacate records from all performances in which the athlete competed while ineligible, although that ruling likely will not affect Oregon’s indoor NCAA title from 2016, in which Todd competed on and scored, as she became ineligible after the winter quarter was complete. Oregon's probation will require increased NCAA oversight of its programs and stricter reporting obligations.

Last year, the NCAA labeled Oregon's self-reported infractions as Level II violations, the second-most severe in its hierarchy. In response, Oregon wrote in a statement that it would contest the severity, and the NCAA settled on a lesser penalty in the form of vacated records and probation.

According to the NCAA’s statement on the matter, an adjunct instructor altered a women’s track and field athlete’s grade from an F to a B- with the purpose of allowing the athlete to catch up on her course work while remaining eligible to compete. 

"He [the professor] said, 'Turn everything in when you can, I understand,'" Todd told FloTrack in 2016. "So that's what our agreement was."

That change led to the athlete receiving credit for the course despite not having earned the requisite marks, which later caused the university to lay down an ineligibility ruling.

The grade change hinged on the athlete’s promise to retake the class in the summer, but it was later determined that such an alteration violated the university’s grading policy, which was unbeknownst to the instructor according to the NCAA release. The grade was later changed back to the original F by the university and the degree was rescinded, although Oregon did not find that the issue violated academic misconduct rules. 

However, the NCAA committee ultimately concluded academic misconduct occurred and thus violated NCAA rules.

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Less than 24 hours after the Nuttycombe Invitational, the second big NCAA cross country meet of the weekend gets going in Terre Haute. The Pre Nationals meet at the site of this year’s NCAA Championships features four of the top seven women’s teams in the nation. Here are three big questions that will be answered in the race: 

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The women’s race at Friday’s Nuttycombe Invitational in Madison functions as a preview for November’s NCAA Championships. Yes, some top teams and individuals will compete the next day at the Pre Nationals meet in Terre Haute, but the fields in Wisconsin will be stacked. Three of the top four teams in the nation are set to race (and six of the 10, and eight of the top 12). 

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