The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association is reportedly set to make an announcement regarding the postseason status of the BR-46 Bowie State football team no later than this weekend.
According to WWBT-TV, Richmond, Va., the league is expected to announce the results of a self-report filed by Bowie State after the school determined that quarterback Matthew Goggans played in five games while reportedly ineligible. The Bulldogs are currently second in the most recent Super Region 1 rankings with an 8-1 overall record and 8-0 mark against D2 competition.
What does this all mean? Here’s a quick Q&A which hopefully answers some of the bigger questions about the case which could impact the both the CIAA Championship Game on Nov. 14 and the Super Region 1 playoff picture as a whole.
What started all of this?
As we reported last month, Bowie State self-reported a potential NCAA violation involving Goggans, who the school determined was ineligible based on Oct. 7.
Goggans, who was enrolled at Bowie State as a graduate student, had played in 15 games over two seasons (2010 and 2011) at Fullerton (Calif.) College in the junior college ranks.
Goggans transferred to FCS North Carolina Central in 2012, where he appeared in eight games, starting three, before he missed the 2013 season due to a knee injury.
Goggans enrolled at Bowie State in 2014, where he appeared in seven games, starting three, last season, which would’ve exhausted his eligibility based on his playing time at both Fullerton College and N.C. Central.
For reasons that remain unknown, Goggans appeared in Bowie State’s first five games of the 2015 season; the Bulldogs went 4-1 in those games, including a loss to FCS Central Connecticut State.
Why has it taken over a month for the investigation?
CIAA spokesman Adrian Ferguson told WWBT “the Bulldogs did notify [the] conference upon discovering Goggans’ ineligibility and filed an unofficial self-report.” Ferguson also told the station that “no penalties can be assigned based on an unofficial report, which is why the league had to wait until this week to review the official report and consider punishment.”
What action can the CIAA or NCAA take against Bowie State?
Both the CIAA and NCAA can apply principles of nullification against Bowie State, which would be applied prior to the CIAA championship game and the NCAA playoffs.
What is nullification and how does it work?
According to the NCAA, “nullification in its application is a process which seeks to penalize only the offending individual/team or institution while preserving the accomplishments and actual competition results earned by the other teams involved.” This link explains the specifics behind nullification.
Should any penalties be assessed, Bowie State’s won-loss record would not be affected; however, the nullification penalties, which call for a deduction of .023 from a team’s winning percentage for each affected game.
Why does Bowie State continue to appear in the NCAA’s official regional rankings despite the potential penalties?
The penalties, should any apply, would be enforced when the NCAA announces their playoff selections on Nov. 15.
Where does that put Bowie State with respect to the CIAA Championship game as of right now?
Entering this Saturday’s game against BR-104 Elizabeth City State, the Bulldogs are 6-0 in CIAA play (which includes the five divisional games and two mandated cross-over games against opponents from the other division). Without any sanctions from the CIAA, Bowie State would represent the CIAA North in Durham on Nov. 14, regardless of the outcome of their game (more in a moment).
Can the CIAA impose its own nullification penalties without waiting for the NCAA to do so?
In theory, yes. Conferences do have the ability to apply nullification principles independent of the NCAA. For example, the Lone Star Conference imposed nullification penalties on West Texas A&M last season prior to the LSC playoffs after WTAMU self-reported an academically ineligible player who appeared in seven games for the Buffs. WTAMU’s won/loss percentage was adjusted to reflect the five LSC games affected, resulting in the Buffs being dropped from the 5th seed to the 6th seed in last season’s league playoffs.
If the CIAA applies nullification ahead of the title game, who would get in?
In the event that Bowie State is determined to be ineligible for the CIAA championship game, regardless of their record, then the winner of Saturday’s game between BR-62 Virginia Union (5-1 CIAA) and BR-84 Virginia State (4-2 CIAA) would represent the CIAA North in Durham on Saturday.
Is there a precedent for the CIAA to impose nullification penalties before their conference championship game or tournament?
As a matter of fact, there is, though not necessarily in football; the CIAA applied nullification in women’s basketball last season. Livingstone was forced to nullify 18 games last season following the discovery of an ineligible player on their roster.
As a result, the Lady Blue Bears saw a possible 9-1 division record (26-2 overall) with top seed from the CIAA South turn into a 6-4 record and a third seed in the CIAA Tournament. The penalties were applied at the end of the season, with Livingstone ultimately failing to qualify for the NCAA tourney.
How would any sanctions against Bowie State affect the rest of Super Region 1?
The overall impact on Super Region 1 would not really be known until the conclusion of the regular season on Nov. 14. Because the NCAA’s strength-of-schedule is calculated based on opponents’ winning percentage and the opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage, nullification penalties could not be applied until the games conclude.
The NCAA’s nullification penalties “will be applied in two categories: the won-lost record percentage and the strength-of-schedule index (overall and in-region, if applicable).” The NCAA calls for a .023 reduction in winning percentage for each affected game (in this case, four games results in a net reduction of .092). In addition, there is also a .007 penalty applied to OWP and a .002 penalty applied to OOWP.
Virginia Union, who lost to Bowie two weeks ago, could be the only team in the top ten who could see a direct impact in their strength-of-schedule index because of Bowie State’s winning percentage hit. It’s also worth noting that the SOS index for ninth-ranked BR-52 California (Pa.) could also be affected, as would any of Cal’s PSAC West rivals currently in the regional rankings because of the Vulcans’ Week 1 win at Virginia State, who lost to Bowie State three weeks ago.