Mary Hardin-Baylor, a Division III school in Belton, Texas, announced Thursday the punishments from an 18-month investigation into NCAA violations by its football programs.
To get ahead of the problem and put themselves in the NCAA's good graces, UMHB self-imposed a 2-year probationary period, enhanced compliance training and a $2,500 fine to the program. Head coach Pete Fredenburg also received a 3-month suspension -- without pay -- and 3-game suspension to begin the 2018 season.
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions accepted those penalties and added some more of their own: UMHB must vacate all wins from the 2016 and '17 football seasons, including the Crusaders' 2016 Division III national championship.
Sounds serious, right?
Here, according to UMHB's release, is why the program and Fedenburg were punished:
The case involved the provision of local transportation by coaching staff and centered around the loan of Fredenburg's 2006 Subaru to one student-athlete prior to and during the 2016 season and again during the 2017 season. These actions violated NCAA rules, including impermissible benefits, and head coach responsibility.
Mary Hardin-Baylor also self-reported a violation involving Fredenburg's loan of the same car to another student-athlete for less than one hour before it broke down and had to be towed.
"I've spent my entire career as a football coach investing in kids," said Fredenburg said in a statement. "In this instance, I unintentionally broke NCAA rules. I regret this, and I accept responsibility."
"I have a passion to help youngsters," the coach later told reporters. "He desperately needed some help. I felt like I was okay with the interpretation of the rules. I had an old car that was in my driveway and I loaned it to him."
UMHB says it plans to appeal the NCAA's vacating of the 2016-17 seasons.
"Mary Hardin-Baylor is committed to a culture of compliance, and the actions we took reflect that commitment," school president Randy O'Rear said. "The record shows we responded quickly, investigated vigorously, immediately self-reported the violations, and independently took decisive corrective steps."
"We have worked diligently with the NCAA during the last 20 months to complete this matter in a cooperative and honorable way, and we will continue to do so during the appeal process."
UMHB went 29-1 in 2016-17, winning the 2016 title and falling to Mount Union in the 2017 championship game.
The program will not have to vacate any wins from its 15-0, national championship season in 2018 and can continue its current 4-0 season without fear of punishment -- so long as one of its coaches doesn't loan a player his car. Then, the NCAA will have no choice but to really bring the hammer down.