Support A10 Champion UMass Women's Tennis VS The NCAA
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Dear Friends and Supporters,
My name is Brittany Collens. I am a 2017 University of Massachusetts graduate who had the wonderful opportunity of playing on the UMass Tennis Team from 2014-2017. I am writing to you today to express the mutual frustration and sorrow that becomes of myself and teammates who were on the team during this time period.
None of us believe that we are an exception to the rules. However, we do believe that we have the right to be treated fairly and justly in accordance with all other athletes and universities. The decision of the Committee of Infractions per the NCAA states that because of a mistake that was self-reported by the University of Massachusetts, women’s tennis would lose all two years (2015/16 and 2016/17) of victories including the women’s tennis A10 Championship among other penalties.
UMass did the right thing by reporting the financial mistake. The mistake was that the students who lived off-campus received some portion of on-campus costs resulting in overpaid fees. I lived off-campus during this time and had NO KNOWLEDGE that I was being overpaid. I found out today that the money was a sum of $504 between myself and my friend and teammate over a telecom fee ($252 each). I don’t even know what that fee is. $252 individually in exchange for most of my UMass college career being erased alongside my teammates. That’s what I and my teammates have to pay for a mistake no one knew about and would later try to correct.
UMass itself cooperated by paying a self-imposed fine of $5,000 and will be under two years probation. Our athletics director Ryan Bamford announced that he stands by the tennis team and will appeal the decision because simply it was not our fault.
If you look at some of the most well-known sports commentators, such as Jay Bilas, they agree that this penalty is disproportionate and does not give any incentives for schools to come forward. In the history of the NCAA, there have been far bigger violations (done with intent) that have received less proportionate penalties.
We won the Championship fairly. No one knew about the money. There were no sports performance-enhancing violations resulting in any of our victories. The $252 made no difference. Just an unfortunate headline in what already is a tough year.
Character is something that we talked about in our locker room every day. We understood that in most cases we would be the underdog and we would fight as hard as we could to win. But always with character and the professionalism that represents the UMass Flagship. We will do the same for this matter.
We feel that it is the NCAA's responsibility to protect student-athlete well-being. By penalizing the tennis team it sends the message that we did something wrong. Because of misleading headlines and this message, we now see our pictures being posted online with labels such as "cheaters" and "dirty". The NCAA CoI is placing blame on student-athletes that had no part in a mistake that was made by a university in which the NCAA manages. A mistake that was self-reported in an effort, to be honest, and protect their student-athletes. This NCAA is wrong here on so many levels.
I ask of my friends, colleagues, opponents, to support this petition for the NCAA not to vacate at least our championship but also two years of competing during 2015-2017. I could not be more proud of the work and effort that went into this team. Many of you may not see the big deal because it does not affect you. But I can absolutely say that if you have ever poured everything you possibly could into something and were finally rewarded for that behavior, and had it taken away for something out of your control and by accident, then I think you can understand the devastation of the team, coaches, and athletic community.
It is a truly powerful thing to get the current and former athletes of the NCAA to sign this to bring to the CoI and the NCAA but we would love the support of everyone as sports goes far beyond the players and teams.
Please see the following links to further inform yourself on this matter and verify the facts mentioned. These documents are news articles and the NCAA Hearing Document detailing the issue released by the NCAA CoI.
NCAA Decision Statement and Report of the Incident:
A10 Commissioner Response:
Thank you for your support.
The UMass Tennis Program
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