ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -The NCAA infractions appeals committee upheld a reduction of five scholarships imposed on New Mexico's football program for major rules violations resulting from an academic fraud investigation.
The NCAA's infractions committee imposed the penalty in August, cutting New Mexico's scholarship offers from 25 to 20 each year for three years.
New Mexico's total number of scholarships was also reduced, from the maximum allowable 85 to 80, each year through the 2011 season.
In its appeal, New Mexico had argued the penalties were too harsh. But in affirming the findings this week, the appeals committee determined the case involved ``serious violations.''
``Although the increased scholarship penalties are more severe than those imposed in some other cases involving academic fraud, we do not find that they are excessive,'' the NCAA said Thursday, quoting the committee in a news release.
found two former assistants in 2004-05 improperly helped three recruits obtain fraudulent academic credits through correspondence courses they never completed at Fresno Pacific University.
New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs was asked if he felt the outcome was fair.
``The only way for me to answer that is we broke the rules,'' he said. ``I do not want anybody to accuse us of whining. I'll leave it for others to decide whether they think it's fair or not.''
Krebs said there is a trend in college sports toward increasing sanctions for rules violations ``and unfortunately, we're one of the first cases experiencing that, if you will, get-tough policy.''
Coach Mike Locksley, hired in December after Rocky Long resigned, said as a matter of caution he went through the recent recruiting period on the assumption the appeal would be denied.
Consequently, the Lobos signed only 20 players for next season.
Krebs said New Mexico was given credit for a one-scholarship reduction that was self-imposed by the school earlier. The Lobos can sign 21 players in 2011 to complete the punishment and can carry 81 scholarship players in 2011.
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