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CalTech’s snapped losing streak in jeopardy?

Jul 12, 2012, 7:00 PM EDT

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You know that our country’s system of collegiate athletics has major problems when CalTech — yes, that CalTech — is getting hammered with NCAA violations:

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) lacked institutional control when it allowed 30 ineligible student-athletes in 12 sports to practice or compete during four academic years, according to findings by the NCAA Division III Committee on Infractions. Penalties, including those self-imposed by Caltech, include three years probation, a postseason ban, a vacation of athletics records, and recruiting limitations.

If we can’t trust the engineers at CalTech to run a clean program, who can we trust?

Well, it turns out that the issues here had less to do with CalTech circumventing the rules as it did with CalTech simply not knowing the rules:

The student-athletes were ineligible due in large part to Caltech’s unique academic policy that allows students to “shop” for courses during a three-week period of each quarter before finalizing their class schedules. During those three weeks, because they were not actually registered in some or all of the courses they are attending, some students were not enrolled on a full-time basis.  Other student-athletes failed to meet good academic standing requirements.

The committee noted that Caltech’s failure to have procedures to verify the full-time enrollment status or academic standing of the student-athletes contributed significantly to the lack of institutional control. Caltech did not have a written process or procedure in place for performing certification duties and ensuring the eligibility of all student-athletes.

In other words, CalTech didn’t lack institutional control, they had an abundance of institutional apathy towards athletics. They didn’t have procedures in place to verify enrollment or academic standing? I guess that’s why eight athletes that participated in the 2010-2011 season were found to be ineligible.

The big news here, however, is that apparently at least one basketball player participated while ineligible. The NCAA’s release in unclear about dates, but this could be devastating news for the CalTech program. You see, in the final game of the 2010-2011 season, the Beavers snapped a 26 year (26 years!), 310 game (310 games!?!) losing streak in SCIAC play. If an ineligible player participated in that game, than — officially speaking — CalTech still hasn’t won a league game in January 23rd, 1985.

Am I the only one hoping that the NCAA doesn’t vacate their win?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.