Renewals, Non-Renewals, and Cancellations of Aid

I. GENERAL POLICY
NCAA Regulations Covered. The following NCAA regulations are the genesis for this policy and these procedures:

NCAA Bylaw 15.3.5.1 - Institutional Obligation (Renewals and Non-Renewals). The renewal of institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability shall be made on or before July 1 prior to the academic year in which it is to be effective. The institution shall promptly notify in writing each student-athlete who received an award the previous academic year and who has eligibility remaining in the sport in which financial aid was awarded the previous academic year (under Bylaw 14.2) whether the grant has been renewed or not renewed for the ensuing academic year. Notification of financial aid renewals and non-renewals must come from the institution's regular financial aid authority and not from the institution's athletics department.

NCAA Bylaw 15.3.4.2 - Reduction or Cancellation Permitted (During Period of the Award). Institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability may be reduced or canceled during the period of the award if the recipient:

a)      Renders himself or herself ineligible for intercollegiate competition;

b)      Fraudulently misrepresents any information on an application, letter of intent or financial aid agreement (see Bylaw 15.3.4.2.3);

c)      Engages in serious misconduct warranting substantial disciplinary penalty. 

d)      Voluntarily withdraws from a sport at any time for personal reasons; however, the recipient's financial aid may not be awarded to another student-athlete in the academic term in which the aid was reduced or cancelled. A student-athlete's request for written permission to contact another four-year collegiate institution regarding a possible transfer does not constitute a voluntary withdrawal.

Award, Reduction or Termination of Financial Aid. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaws 15.3.4 and 15.3.5, the University may reduce or cancel the athletically related financial aid of student-athletes under specified circumstances. At the end of each academic year, the Head Coach of each program shall make a decision to award, reduce or cancel athletically related financial aid for a student-athlete for the subsequent academic year. (Awards can only be granted for a one-year period, as per NCAA rules.) Next, the Head Coach shall communicate the decision to the Compliance Office in writing. The Compliance Office shall then inform the Financial Aid Office of the decision. Pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 15.3.5.1, the Financial Aid Office will act on the decision for the student-athlete and will communicate the decision to the student-athlete in writing, including notification of the right of the student-athlete to formally appeal the decision, no later than July 1 each year. If a student-athlete wishes to appeal the decision, then the student-athlete must follow the Formal Hearing Process outlined in section III below.

II. SCOPE
Range of the Process. This procedural process is modeled on the University Grievance Policy in order to provide fairness in the hearing of complaints in a similar manner to how the University handles grievances for all students generally. More specifically, this policy provides a process that may be used to resolve grievances among student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff at UMass in relation to Permission to Contact and athletically related financial aid. In particular, this process is applicable only to:

(1) Grievances regarding the denial of Permission to Contact (i.e., a release) pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 13.1.1.3,
(2) Grievances regarding the reduction or termination of athletically related financial aid during the period of the award, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 15.3.4 (reduction or cancellation during the period of the award), and
(3) Grievances regarding the reduction or termination of athletically related financial aid at the end of the academic year, pursuant to NCAA Bylaw 15.3.5 (renewal or non-renewal for the subsequent academic year).

This process shall not be used to challenge any other Athletics policies or actions, nor shall it be used to challenge University policies and procedures of general applicability. Any other grievances must be handled through normal University entities and procedures.
 

III. APPEAL PROCESS
Informal Resolution. The goal of informal resolutions is to resolve disputes among student-athletes, coaches, administrators and staff without resort to a formal grievance procedure. Individuals should make reasonable and good faith efforts to resolve disputes with each other directly, promptly, and informally. Persons seeking to resolve a dispute informally may seek the assistance of staff members of the Athletics Compliance Office, as appropriate.

Formal Hearing Process. If informal resolution is not possible and not accomplished, then the grievant may initiate a formal hearing process. In order to initiate the process, the grievant shall submit a written request for an appeal to the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance within 14 calendar days of the transfer denial or financial aid reduction/termination. Any requests submitted after the expiration of 14 calendar days are rendered unacceptable and will not be heard or examined. Further, all requests must describe the reasons that the grievant believes the transfer denial or financial aid reduction/termination should be overturned.

Composition of Hearing Committees. If a formal hearing is appropriately requested, then a committee of individuals from outside the Athletics Department shall be convened to hear the complaint. The Associate Director for Fiscal Employment serves as the Chair of Committee for Appeals of Athletics Financial Aid Awards. The Chair has the authority to appoint members to their committee. The Hearing Committee, in any circumstances, will consist of three members:

Appeals of Athletics Financial Aid Awards

• The Associate Director for Fiscal Employment will serve as the Chair of this Committee,
• Two other members of the University Financial Aid Office, chosen by the Associate Director for Fiscal Employment.

Notification of Hearing. If a formal hearing is appropriately requested, then the Hearing Committee shall set a date to hear the appeal of the grievant within 14 calendar days of receipt of the grievant’ s request. The hearing will occur on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. The Chair shall notify both the grievant and respondent of the composition of the Hearing Committee, as well as the date, time and venue for the Hearing. Objections to the participation of the particular Hearing Committee members must be submitted in writing to the Committee Chair in advance of the Hearing. The Chair's decision on the objection is final and binding.

Ex-Parte Communication. No member of the Hearing Committee may directly or indirectly communicate in connection with an issue relevant to the appeal with the grievant or respondent, their representatives or any other person associated with a party to the appeal, except on notice and opportunity for the grievant and respondent to participate.

IV. HEARING COMMITTEE PROCEDURES
Who May Attend. Only members of the Hearing Committee, the grievant, and the respondent may attend the full Hearing. Other witnesses may be present only if giving pertinent testimony. A committee member shall be disqualified if the member determines that he or she could not act without unfair bias or prejudice in reaching a decision.

Note that the hearing process is an internal, professional procedure for resolving disputes; therefore it should not be construed as a formal legal proceeding. Thus, while an individual may seek legal advice pertaining to the process, lawyers representing the grievant or respondent (or their witnesses) are specifically prohibited from attending any portion of the Hearing.

Telephone Option. If it is not possible for the grievant to appear in person for the hearing, the committee will allow him or her to phone in or Skype.

Decorum. Proper and professional decorum is required during the Hearing. The Chair may exclude from the Hearing any person who fails to maintain a proper and professional decorum.

Evidence and/or Documentation. The grievant and the respondent may introduce evidence and/or documentation at the Hearing. No rigid rules of evidence will be in effect. The Committee may allow hearsay testimony. The Committee may exclude character evidence and evidence that is irrelevant or unduly repetitious. The Committee may limit both the number of witnesses and the time granted to each witness during the Hearing.

Failure to Appear. Failure of the grievant or the respondent to appear or phone in to the Hearing shall not prevent the Hearing from proceeding. The Committee may, however, decide to cancel the Hearing if the grievant or the respondent is not present.

Order of Presentation. The grievant shall proceed first, followed by the respondent, specifically as follows:

1.      Presentation by the student-athlete (grievant) - 20 minutes or less.

2.      Presentation by the coach (respondent) - 20 minutes or less.

3.      Rebuttal by the student-athlete (grievant) - 10 minutes or less.

4.      Rebuttal by the coach (respondent) - 10 minutes or less.

5.      Questions from the Committee to grievant and/or respondent - no time limit.

6.      Conclusion of hearing - grievant, respondent and witnesses excused.

7.      Deliberation and decision - no time limit.

 

Extension of Allotted Time. The Chair of the Committee shall have the exclusive authority and discretion to grant an extension of the time limits noted in the Order of Presentation.

Questioning. The grievant and the respondent shall have a reasonable opportunity to rebut opposing evidence. Committee members may question the grievant, the respondent, and witnesses.

Committee Deliberation and Decision. After the Hearing is concluded, the Chair of the Committee shall excuse the grievant and the respondent and all witnesses. The Committee shall then discuss the arguments, evidence and documentation presented during the Hearing. The Chair shall the poll the members of the Committee present at the Hearing by secret ballot on the question of whether to sustain the grievance. The decision of the Hearing Committee will be determined by a simple majority vote of the Hearing Committee members. In reaching a decision, the Hearing Committee should reach a reasonable conclusion, considering the interests of the institution and the student-athlete.

Remedies. The Hearing Committee may sustain the decision regarding contact or financial aid, modify the decision as requested by the student-athlete, or modify the decision in any other way, as long as it deems the result reasonable based on its consideration of the interests of the institution and the student-athlete. However, any remedy cannot constitute a violation of NCAA or Conference regulations, nor can any remedy cause any student-athletes, coaches, administrators, staff or the University to be in violation of NCAA or Conference regulations.

Report of the Decision. The Chair of the Committee shall prepare a written report of the decision of the Committee. This report shall be reviewed by the Committee members who participated in the Hearing. Members shall indicate their approval by signing the report. The Chair of the Committee shall promptly report the decision of the Committee to the grievant, the respondent, the Associate Athletics Director for Compliance and any other individual(s) designated by the grievant or respondent.

Finality of the Decision. The decision of the committee is final and may not be appealed to any other individual or entity at the University of Massachusetts, affiliated Conferences or the NCAA. The grievant may request the Chair to consider newly discovered information that existed at the time of the Hearing that would in reasonable probability change the Hearing Committee's decision. The decision as to whether the information represents newly discovered facts and whether it likely would have changed the decision of the Hearing Committee will be made by the Chair. The decision rendered by the Chair on this issue is final and may not be appealed.

V. IMPLEMENTATION
The process described in this policy is intended to provide fairness in the hearing of complaints in a manner similar to how the University handles grievances for all students generally and also to facilitate compliance with NCAA Bylaws 13.1.1.3, 15.3.4 and 15.3.5. The University expects participants in the process to attempt in good faith to carefully follow the procedures described in this policy. Nonetheless, there may be circumstances when participants in the process unintentionally err while attempting in good faith to follow the procedures described in this policy. If such an error is promptly brought to the attention of the Chair of the Hearing Committee, the University will make reasonable efforts to correct the error, if practical.

 

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