UM President Won’t Appeal NCAA Sanctions

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – University of Montana President Royce Engstrom has decided against asking the NCAA to reduce the sanctions the university self-imposed on the football team after the NCAA found players received improper benefits.

Engstrom told the Missoulian on Thursday that he made the decision after consulting with outside attorneys.

Engstrom informed members of the Grizzly Quarterback Club of his decision earlier this week. The group felt the loss of a dozen football scholarships over three seasons was overly severe in comparison to penalties other schools received. Club members argued many of the extra benefits players received — such as Sunday dinners and food at tailgates —were humanitarian in nature and of the type the NCAA is considering removing as violations.

The club asked Engstrom to seek advice from a Kansas City law firm that specializes in NCAA appeals.

Engstrom said he was told Montana’s penalties were not extraordinary based on its infractions, which included the parent of one player paying just over $300 to bail two football players out of jail at the request of the grandfather of one of them. The grandfather later paid her back. The NCAA also found an attorney gave the two players free legal representation.

The NCAA said the two players were ineligible to play after their arrests, so the school had to vacate any wins in which they participated.

The NCAA agreed with UM’s self-imposed sanctions in July 2013, which included three years of probation, the scholarship cuts and vacating five football wins, including two playoff wins, from the 2011 season. UM also had to donate $3,000 to charity, the estimated value of the free legal help.