Northwestern Oklahoma State will not play its scheduled NAIA quarterfinal game at defending national champion Carroll College on Saturday after discovering three players were academically ineligible.


Northwestern Oklahoma State will not play its scheduled NAIA quarterfinal game at defending national champion Carroll College on Saturday after discovering three players were academically ineligible.

Northwestern will forfeit its regular-season games against Bacone and Texas College as well as a postseason game against Friends University in Wichita because the players competed in those games while ineligible.

The school said the unidentified players dropped classes during the fall semester that reduced their course load below 12 hours, which is not allowed by the NAIA.

“Our university community is saddened and embarrassed by the actions we were forced to take today, but we will never compromise the integrity of this university,” university president Janet Cunningham said in a statement.

“Everyone at Northwestern is accountable for ensuring that we follow NAIA rules and institutional policy to the letter.”

Cunningham apologized to the opposing schools involved in the forfeited games, especially Friends, and said a task force would be formed to look into eligibility issues in the athletic department and prevent further compliance problems.

“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,” Cunningham said.

The NAIA planned to release details later Tuesday on how the playoffs would be affected. Carroll, which has won five of the last six NAIA titles, has a 27-game winning streak and is the top-ranked team in the playoffs.

Carroll beat Dickinson State 35-18 on Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.

Northwestern Oklahoma State won its only national title in 1999 and also lost to Carroll in the 2003 title game.

The NAIA planned to have its National Eligibility Committee review a report from Northwestern Oklahoma State and determine whether any additional sanctions are necessary.

“It is our understanding that earlier today Northwestern Oklahoma’s internal monitoring system detected a violation of NAIA rules and once learning of the violation the administration immediately contacted NAIA officials,” NAIA president Jim Carr said in a statement.

“I know this is a difficult time for the administration, coaches and players but would like to recognize the integrity of the university’s administration for taking responsibility to do what was right.”