NCAA vacates UMHB football's 2016 national championship

By Russell Wilburn

The NCAA has vacated all wins by Mary Hardin-Baylor football during the 2016 and 2017, including the 2016 D-III national championship, as punishment for rules violations. 

UMHB will appeal the NCAA's decision to vacate the national title. The Crusaders self-reported the violations to the NCAA.

The infractions occurred when head coach Pete Fredenburg loaned his 2006 Subaru to student-athletes. One player was allowed to use the car for 18 months during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, according to the Associated Press. On another occasion, Fredenburg loaned the car to another student, but it broke down within an hour and was towed. 

Additionally, the same player was given unidentified "impermissable transportation" while the player was a prospect. 

The loan violated the NCAA's rules on impermissable benefits and head coach responsibility. Fredenburg expressed regret at his actions, and stated that he misunderstood a rule about impermissable benefits. 

"I have a passion to help youngsters," Fredenburg told reporters. "He desperately needed some help. I felt like I was okay with the interpretation of the rules. I had an old car that was in my driveway and I loaned it to him."

UMHB previously self-imposed a two-year probation period, enhanced compliance training and a $2,500 fine. Fredenburg received a three-month suspension without pay and a three-game suspension, which was served in 2018. The NCAA accepted the self-imposed punishments, but levied the additional forfeits. 

If the punishment is upheld, UMHB will have to vacate all wins that the now-ineligible player participated in over the two season. The Crusaders won 29 games over the two seasons, and won the 2016 title over Wisconsin-Oshkosh. The athletic deparment said it will have a report at a later date to clarify exactly how many games will be forfeited. 

"Although the university recognized the seriousness of the violations it has self-reported, it respectfully disagreed with the Committee on Infractions decision to add to our self-imposed sanctions the vacating of wins and records for the 2016 and 2017 football seasons," said UMHB president Randy O'Rear.

The Committee on Infractions voted to uphold the penalty, but UMHB will appeal to the NCAA's Infractions Appeal Committee. The decision handed down by the NCAA does not impact UMHB's 2018 national championship, and will not impact this or any further seasons. 

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