WASHINGTON -- The NCAA will investigate three sports programs at the University of the District of Columbia, focusing on eligibility irregularities that have occurred since 1982, The Washington Times reported Friday.
School spokesman John Britton confirmed an NCAA investigator will visit UDC next Thursday, but Britton could not say which programs will be examined, the Times report said.
The Times, according to sources, said the probe involves the football and women's basketball programs, both suspended this year for eligibility problems, and the men's basketball program.
NCAA enforcement director David Berst would not confirm whether UDC was being investigated and withheld comment until the school makes the issue public.
The probe is expected to cover the period from 1982, when the UDC men's basketball team won the Division II national championship, to the present, the newspaper said.
The Times said the men's basketball program will be examined on charges players registered for the same classes in consecutive semesters to remain eligible.
The anticipated NCAA visit did not surprise UDC interim president Miles Fisher, who told the Times it was 'preliminary.'
Fisher also told the newspaper the NCAA apparently first learned of possible irregularities in the athletic program from former interim athletic director Leo Miles, who was fired in August after five months.
After Miles left, the school sent a written report of problems to the NCAA as part of its 'periodic' update, Fisher told the Times.
'We're trying to make sure that we conform to certain standards,' said Fisher, who added he unsure whether previous administrations had notified the NCAA of any problems.
UDC has had numerous scandals over the years but has managed to keep the problem in-house by canceling games or forfeiting victories.
The men's basketball program has been relatively quiet since George Leftwich took over two years ago, unlike the term of predecessor Wil Jones. The Firebirds had to forfeit 11 games during the 1988-89 season for using an illegal transfer. Jones was fired.
Eligibility confusion dogged the women's basketball program, which led to the firing of William 'Doc' Robinson in February and the cancellation of the final six games of the season. Volleyball coach Donna Hawkins replaced him, but the program was suspended this fall when the administration failed to solve the problems.
The football program, an annual loser on the field, was suspended this year partly because the athletic department failed to confirm the eligibility of several players, and there was no verification system in place.
The administration thought it had a solution when Miles, a veteran NFL referee and former Howard University athletic director, was hired to run the program in March. However, officials were unhappy with the lack of improvement and he was fired. Miles was the ninth permanent or interim AD the school has had in the past 12 years.