By DOUG ALDEN AP Sports Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Brigham Young was placed on probation for three years by the NCAA on Tuesday for violations in men's volleyball.
Violations found by the infractions committee included improper financial benefits and travel expenses given to international prospects who were not enrolled at the school. Although most of the violations were committed by a booster, the school was still responsible, committee chairwoman Josephine Potuto said.
"Oversight of rules compliance is an absolute condition of NCAA membership," Potuto said.
The violations cited BYU and former volleyball coach Tom Peterson for failing to monitor the program adequately. BYU's compliance department alerted Peterson to the potential for NCAA violations, but did not follow through after that, according to the NCAA report.
BYU's probation began Tuesday and runs through March 10, 2011. The men's volleyball team also loses half a scholarship for each of the next two years and faces limits when recruiting players.
The penalties do not affect the Cougars' 2004 NCAA championship.
Athletic director Tom Holmoe said the NCAA accepted most of BYU's self-imposed penalties after the school's own investigation.
"We are pleased to have this process behind us," Holmoe said in a statement.
The NCAA began investigating the volleyball program in 2006, prompting the abrupt resignation of Peterson.
Peterson, in a news release from his attorney, disputed the NCAA's accusation that he knew of violations and chose to overlook them. He said the infractions were well-intended efforts to help players who had defected, but were actions that violated the technical bylaws of the NCAA.
"No one was trying to circumvent rules and none of the violations gave BYU an unfair advantage," Peterson said.
The most serious infractions involved a Cuban player who had defected and planned to enroll at BYU in 2004. He moved to Provo, where he took a class to improve his English. The mother of one of the BYU players on the team at the time paid for the class. Under NCAA rules, the mother was considered a representative of BYU athletics' interests.
Players who were on the team also provided housing and food for the Cuban player, who was still considered a recruit.
Potuto, a constitutional law professor at the University of Nebraska's law school, said similar cases have also been happening more frequently. Prospects come to town early with no financial support, and schools do not track who is paying for the recruits' living expenses.
Investigators also found improper payments from a booster, including giving a player a job at an inflated wage and helping pay legal fees for immigration issues.
BYU conducted its own investigation and placed its own penalties on the program, but the NCAA increased the probation period by a year. The NCAA agreed with BYU's self-imposed limits on recruiting. BYU also cannot accept any assistance from the booster for the next two years.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-03-11-08 1727MDT