Known across the country for its football program’s squeaky-clean image, Stanford has seen that reputation take a slight hit.
The NCAA announced Thursday afternoon that “two boosters impermissibly provided nearly $3,500 in extra benefits to a football student-athlete, including an impermissible loan, free use of an automobile, meals and other extra benefits.” While the NCAA didn’t specify the player’s name, the university subsequently confirmed that it was former wide receiver Devon Cajuste.
The Cardinal self-imposed a one-game suspension on Cajuste. Additionally, the receiver was forced to pay the value of the impermissible benefits to charity as a condition of his 2014 reinstatement.
Below is the school’s explanation as to how they ran afoul of NCAA bylaws:
Student-athletes had been residing with community homeowners during the summer for a number of decades, and in 2007 Stanford football initiated structured process to help student-athletes connect with community homeowners to obtain rental housing in the summer months. The program helped football student-athletes remain in the area to train, attend summer classes and participate in internships and other activities that would benefit them after graduation.
In the summer of 2014, the university discovered that one student-athlete had received impermissible benefits from his landlord in violation of NCAA rules. Impermissible benefits valued at under $400 included restaurant meals with the landlord’s family, movie tickets with the family and the use of a local vacation home. Another impermissible benefit was a loan to purchase a bicycle, which, at the time of the review, had already been repaid.
The NCAA investigation explored whether there was a possibility of other violations. No other violations were addressed in the report. But in 2014, recognizing the risks of these housing arrangements, the university revised its policy and now prohibits student-athletes from renting local housing during the summer. Student-athletes are now housed on campus. The university has provided additional education to community members and boosters regarding impermissible benefits.
“Earlier today, the NCAA released a report announcing that Stanford self-reported a violation involving a Stanford football student-athlete in 2014. I am the student-athlete involved in the violation,” Cajuste said in a statement. “I unknowingly accepted impermissible benefits from my summer landlord. I look forward to moving on from this incident and to supporting my alma mater for many years to come. I will have no further comment on this matter.”
The NCAA accepted Stanford’s self-imposed penalties for what were deemed Level II violations, while adding an additional $5,000 fine and a public reprimand of the university. Those are the first “major” violations for the football program.
“The university will continue to be diligent about educating student-athletes and supporters, monitoring its programs and, when a potential violation is discovered, vigorously reviewing the matter and self-reporting to the NCAA any findings,” the university stated in its release. “Stanford will continue to work towards a tradition of excellence and hold itself to the highest standards of conduct and compliance.”