Husky baseball: What we know about NCAA-imposed sanctions

With the Huskies baseball team hit by NCAA sanctions, things seem dark — but that’s not really the case.

Washington baseball received some sobering news yesterday when news broke of the NCAA’s ruling in regard to minor recruiting violations in 2018. The program was fined $5,000, put on one-year probation and ordered to vacate its College World Series wins from the only year in program history that they made it that far.

The violations in question stem back to the 2018 recruiting period. In its investigation, the NCAA found that UW paid for the travel costs of the parents of three baseball recruits — a total of $7,795. Such expenses are permissible in basketball and football recruiting, but not for baseball.

UW head coach Lindsay Meggs greets umpire Joe Burleson prior to the game against the Oregon State Beavers in the College World Series.  Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Lindsay Meggs actually self-reported the violation in 2018 and all three players were ruled ineligible for the upcoming season, according to The Seattle Times’ Adam Jude.

The UW Athletic Department, though, said it was still disappointed by the decision, likely expecting more in turn for their (apparent) cooperation and transparency. It also announced efforts to monitor travel and campus visits more closely in the future.

“The violations occurred due to a good-faith misunderstanding between former members of the baseball coaching staff and former members of the compliance staff,” said UW spokesperson Jay Hibrands. “The former baseball staff members inaccurately thought that the NCAA rule allowing for institutions to pay for parents’ travel in the sports of football and basketball applied to other sports as well, including baseball.”

While the claim that staff members unintentionally violated a rule is as common as staff members actually intentionally violating rules (that is to say, very common), there’s plenty of evidence that this is legimitately the case here. For one, it’s the first “Level I, Level II or major” violation that the program has ever received, and the NCAA acknowledged the violations were unintentional in its ruling. For another, the players in question were immediately reinstated by the NCAA and all of them had already verbally committed to UW before the trip even started. It’s extremely unlikely that the transmission of benefits had any consequence or sway in their decisions.

And while the judgment does feel a bit harsh considering those factors (especially the vacation of CWS wins), there’s reason to believe it could’ve been worse. None of these decisions have much potential to repress the future of the Husky program in any timeframe, which is what similar rulings have the capacity to do.

The headlines don’t sound great, and there are issues with optics in future recruiting — but anyone who sees this news and thinks there is something wrong systematically is ignoring context. I wouldn’t expect that to hamper anything even a few months from now when the season kicks off.