It’s finally over. After almost two months of speculation around Castleton State College and the surrounding community, the NCAA has reached a decision regarding a violation that forced former coach Rich Alercio to resign on March 1.
And it’s good news for the college.
The NCAA sent a letter to Athletic Director Deanna Tyson, President Dave Wolk and other college officials on April 28 announcing that “It was determined that, as the institution’s actions in this case were substantial and meaningful, no further action should be taken by the NCAA in the matter.”
Alercio resigned after the college learned he had set up a meeting where a part-time employee co-signed three loans for a player totaling nearly $22,000.
“I was pleased that it was ruled a secondary violation,” Wolk said. “If they had concluded that it was a major violation, this could have taken months or even more than a year, and quite frankly, it deserved an expeditious resolution, and in the grand scheme of things, that’s what happened.”
Tyson, who received the letter, said she was pleased with what it said, but opening it was nerve-wracking.
“I’m feeling very good about the news,” she said. “It was definitely better than what we had expected.”
New head coach Marc Klatt echoed the administration’s thoughts.
“I’m excited from the standpoint that the NCAA looked at this as a single incident, which indicated that the institution has sufficient control,” he said.
Adam Chicoine, a co-captain on the team, said that he and the other player’s are excited about the decision and the chance for forward progress.
“We feel relieved right now from a couple standpoints, the first being that there were no major violations or repercussions to deal with. We are also relieved that we can finally move forward completely into the 2011 season,” Chicoine said.
According to Klatt, the team’s ability to move on quickly from Alercio’s shocking resignation is something that has really impressed him this spring.
“They’ve had the ability to worry only about what they can control. We’ve been so business-like, so matter of fact, so focused on moving forward and what we can control. That’s what a mature college team does, so we’ve already taken steps to ensure that we have success this fall.”
As for the still unnamed player who was caught up in the middle of all of this, the NCAA has reinstated him.
“That was my main concern, seeing that he was able to play again, and that he didn’t have any sanctions against him as well,” Tyson said. “As far as I know, [he’s going to play here in the fall.] That’s his plan. He is participating in the team’s nontraditional season. I would hope that he would be coming back in the fall.”
According to Wolk, one of the benefits of the secondary violation ruling is that neither the player’s nor part-time employee’s names were released by the NCAA. Wolk made sure to stress that one of the college’s top priorities was to protect the player and part-time employee.
“Both of [them] were innocent in this case,” Wolk said. “We wanted to make sure that we could protect their privacy because this was not their fault at all.”
When asked about his feelings on the player’s reinstatement, Klatt was visibly happy, mentioning that the player was unaware that the college could be penalized for the co-signed loans.
“I’m excited for him that he won’t feel that 10,000-pound gorilla on his shoulders anymore,” Klatt said. “And because I love him just as dearly as I do all of our players, I’m just glad we can move forward.”
According to the letter written by Director of Enforcement for Secondary Infractions Christopher Strobel, the player is now working to correct this situation on his end.
“[The unnamed player] returned the Sallie Mae loan of $ 9,510 to the lender on February 10, 2011, and is working to rectify the first two loans by having [the part-time employee’s] name removed as then endorser of the loans,” the letter read.
Wolk said he’s had time to talk with a lot of the players including co-captains Phil Hall and Chicoine, and he’s been impressed by what he has seen and heard.
“I’m just very impressed by the closeness of the team and their unified sense of team in approaching the future,” he said. “The atmosphere is very positive and forward-thinking, just what I had hoped it would be.”
Chicoine shared Wolk’s thoughts about moving forward.
“I think we have been extremely excited for the season throughout this whole process,” Chicoine said. “We are continuing to work hard with coach Al Jean and we can’t wait to see what the 2011 season has in store for us.”
With a sigh almost of relief, Wolk offered his final words on the subject.
“As far as I’m concerned, the NCAA has ruled and the case is closed,” he said. “It’s time for us to move on.”
If you would like to see the NCAA’s letter in its entirety, please visit this story at www.CastletonSpartan.com