By Nick Forbes Asst. sports editor
The Susquehanna football team received punishment over the summer for violating the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) regulations regarding financial aid.
According to an email sent to students by University President Jay Lemons, it was discovered that Nick Lopardo, whom the Susquehanna football stadium was previously named for, and board of trustees member Joe Palchak violated NCAA regulations by paying for two student athletes’ tuition in full.
The athletes, whose name were not released, received payment from Lopardo and Palchak, which is against NCAA rules, which state, “Any student-athlete who receives financial aid other than that which is permitted by the Association shall not be eligible for intercollegiate athletics, and it is not permissible for a donor to contribute funds to finance scholarship or gift aid for student-athletes.”
The funding was uncovered by members of the Susquehanna program and reported immediately to the NCAA. The board of trustees met to make decisions on the matter and introduced the self-imposed sanctions upon the university’s football program.
The students in question are currently declared ineligible until they meet mandates set by the NCAA and must serve a three-game suspension and complete 50 hours of community service.
The football program has also been banned from postseason play, including bowl games, for the 2016 season. The program has also been placed on a two-year probationary period during which it will be “required to provide periodic reports to the NCAA.”
In addition to the ban, Susquehanna is also forced to forfeit its five victories from the 2015 campaign.
As a result of the penalties invoked on the Susquehanna football team, Lopardo has been permanently disassociated from the university’s program, meaning that his name will be removed from the stadium as well.
Palchak, who admitted to being “not fully forthcoming,” resigned from his position on the board of trustees and has been disassociated from the university’s program for a minimum of five years.
As we have seen from programs in the past, things like this do not usually go over smoothly.
Precedent universities have shown to be non-cooperative in situations similar to what Susquehanna has gone through, which is what I think makes the situation remarkable.
All of the findings were reported directly to the NCAA by the River Hawks program immediatley after being discovered.
It’s easy to think that the program could have turned a blind eye to the issue, as so many other university sports programs have done in the past and try to cover up the scandal, but to Susquehanna’s credit, they did the right thing, something that seems a rarity in the world today.
Despite the controversy, Head Coach Tom Perkovich is determined to keep the focus on football as he enters his second year of coaching at Susquehanna. The River Hawks look to improve on their .500 season last year but fell short to rival Lycoming on Sept. 3 in their 2016 season opener