Caltech gives new meaning to ‘academically ineligible’

Athletics are not the hallmark of the California Institute of Technology. Its baseball team has lost 227 games in a row and its women’s volleyball team has lost all 168 of its conference games, the New York Times reports. In 2011, the men’s water polo team snapped a seven-year winless drought, and the men’s basketball team ended a 310-game conference losing streak. Its academic reputation, however, is sterling. Caltech alumni and faculty have won a combined 32 Nobel Prizes. So when the N.C.A.A. on Thursday cited Caltech for a lack of institutional control of its Division III athletic program, specifically related to academics, there was a mostly quizzical reaction, as if it must be an error.

“I was definitely pretty surprised,” said the senior basketball player Christophe Kunesh, a computer science major. “It all seemed a little harsh.”

The N.C.A.A. determined that a total of 30 Caltech athletes on 12 teams practiced or played in games while academically ineligible from the 2007-08 to 2010-11 academic years. But most of the infractions, which were discovered and reported by Athletic Director Betsy Mitchell in 2011, were the result of Caltech’s unusual class registration system…

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