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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 6, 2003

Hawai'i's not the first to vacate NCAA title

Advertiser Staff

The University of Hawai'i was not the first team, and probably won't be the last to be forced to vacate an NCAA Division I title.

Yesterday, the NCAA stripped the UH men's volleyball team of its 2002 national championship because it used an ineligible player.

The previous team forced to vacate a Division I title was UCLA's softball team in 1995, but the Bruins' infractions were more egregious than UH's.

The UCLA case involved 20 months of investigation by the NCAA and the penalties were far-reaching.

The investigation centered on the softball program's awarding three softball players soccer scholarships, and resulted in the removal of a senior associate director of athletics and placement of the entire athletic program on probation for three years.

A Los Angeles Times report in May 1997 said the NCAA report said the violations concerned "institutional control, financial aid and ethical conduct" and the actions put the softball program over the NCAA scholarship limit.

According to the NCAA, a soccer tryout for one of the softball players was arranged, but it came after the season, the Times reported.

UCLA defeated UH in regional play.

Although the three players involved were not identified. One was believed to have been Australian pitcher Tanya Harding, who compiled a 17-1 record and pitched all four victories in the NCAA tournament.

Harding also was the winning pitcher against UH in two NCAA South Regional games, the second of which ended UH's season.

The Times reported that Harding did not become a student until the 1995 season and did not complete that semester's work, returning to her homeland to join Australia's Olympic softball team.

Other Division I schools to have vacated titles include Howard (men's soccer, 1971), San Francisco (men's soccer, 1978), Syracuse (men's lacrosse, 1990), Tulsa (women's golf, 1988), and Texas-El Paso (men's cross country, 1983).

The NCAA does not hold a championship in Division I in football.