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NCAA penalizes Montana football program

The SportsXchange

The University of Montana was hit with NCAA sanctions on Friday for failing to monitor the football program under former coach Robin Pflugrad.

The findings of an NCAA investigation included improper booster benefits to players, bail money and free legal representation for two athletes, and complimentary meals, clothing, lodging and transportation.

The penalties, most of which were self-imposed by the university, were a three-year probation, the loss of four scholarships in each of the next three seasons and vacating five wins because ineligible athletes played in those games. Two of the victories came in the FCS playoffs against Central Arkansas and Northern Iowa during an 11-3 season.

Pflugrad, who was fired in 2012 and currently serves as the offensive coordinator at Weber State, is suspended from coaching for the first game of the 2013 season. He also will be restricted in recruiting and required to attend an NCAA regional rules seminar next year.

The investigated focused on the October 2011 arrests of cornerback Trumaine Johnson and backup quarterback Gerald Kemp after police responded to complaints of a loud party.

The NCAA determined that a booster provided bail money for the two and an attorney gave them about $1,500 in free legal representation. Pflugrad failed to report the impermissible benefits to university officials and athletic director Jim O'Day also had knowledge of the improper benefits, the NCAA found.

The NCAA additionally uncovered evidence that boosters gave meals to at least eight athletes in the program on more than 100 occasions from 2004 through 2012 and that another player received free storage space for a month, transportation, clothing and a small cash loan.

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