Open Letter from Dr. Cunningham

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Dear Members of the Northwestern Family:

I need to share with you some unpleasant news that will bring a significant amount of negative attention to Northwestern in the coming days.

Today we informed the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics that our football team will forfeit three games due to the use of ineligible players. Because of this rules violation, Northwestern will not participate in its scheduled NAIA Football Championship Series quarterfinal game at Carroll College on Saturday.

An internal check of student records revealed that three student-athletes on the football team dropped classes during the current fall semester that placed them below the minimum required credit hours to be eligible for athletic competition. NAIA rules require all student-athletes maintain at least 12 credit hours of classes during the fall and spring semesters.

Upon dropping the classes, the players were immediately ineligible, but participated in regular season games against Bacone College (Okla.) and Texas College, and a postseason contest against Friends University (Kan.). Northwestern will forfeit victories to these schools.

I am saddened and embarrassed by the actions we were forced to take today, but we will never compromise the integrity of this university. Everyone at Northwestern is accountable for ensuring that we follow NAIA rules and institutional policy to the letter.

On behalf of Northwestern, I apologize to our fans and to all of the members of the university community. I also want to convey my apologies to the coaches, players and fans of Bacone College and Texas College, and especially to the coaches and young men at Friends University, who were denied an opportunity to continue playing in the postseason.

I also feel for our players and coaches who will not be allowed to continue their season. They have worked very hard to get to this point, but I am confident they understand that we are doing the right thing.

In the next few days, I will form a university task force to examine eligibility issues within the athletic department to ensure rules compliance in the future and begin the process of restoring credibility within the athletic department.

One of the great things about the people of Northwestern, is that when we are faced with adversity, we rise up together to meet the challenge. We will meet this challenge and become a better university for the experience.


Janet Cunningham, Ed.D.