Concluding an investigation that began last fall, Nebraska announced that they had reported the athletic department to the NCAA for violations of granting athletes benefits that were not permitted under NCAA rules. Nebraska will put themselves on probation for the next two years and will pay a fine.
What's the violation? Is it cars or selling of memorabilia? Nope. It was textbooks. Specifically, when students went to the bookstore to pick up their books, any books recommended by their professors were bundled with their required books. And while the NCAA allows schools to pay for required books, optional books are not allowed to be covered by scholarship money.238 athletes in all were determined to have received the illegal book benefits. They will be required to make a donation to a charity in the amount of the optional book benefits; 181 athletes will owe under $100. The athletic department will also pay a $28,000 fine; roughly the amount of the illegal book benefits. Concerns about players turning around and selling the books are mitigated because players are not allowed to sell books back for cash.
In the end, you would think that this would be all that the NCAA would do on this case. Looking over the situation, it would appear to be a case of sloppy administration and misunderstanding the rules. Even so, it would be hard to come down too hard on Nebraska for this situation. After all, the extra benefits were not cars, sex, or money.
It was for textbooks. You know, education...the point of a University scholarship in the first place? Did Nebraska go too far? Yep. But in the grand scheme of things, this is probably about as benign of an NCAA extra benefits violation as you can find. Well, maybe Eric Crouch's ham sandwich was a little more benign.