UPDATED: 1:40 p.m. ET.
Pepperdine announced Thursday that it has barred its baseball team from participating in the 2011 NCAA tournament after the school discovered it had failed to properly administer financial aid awards to a number of its student-athletes.
In addition to baseball, the men's tennis and men's volleyball teams received self-imposed postseason bans. The tennis team had been a strong contender for the national championship.
"This was entirely an administrative matter," director of athletics Steve Potts said in a statement. "It is most unfortunate and regrettable. We are committed to maintaining a culture of complete compliance and accountability in regard to NCAA regulations."
The West Coast Conference announced that Pepperdine is not eligible to win the WCC title, but it will participate in the 21-game conference schedule and all games played against the Waves will count in the conference standings. Should Pepperdine finish in first place in the standings, the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and the conference title will be awarded to the second-place finisher. Pepperdine players will be eligible for individual awards, however.
Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez said he found out a week ago that the administration was looking into the matter, and he found out Wednesday that his team would be banned from the postseason. He met with his team shortly thereafter.
"It was actually a great team meeting," Rodriguez said. "We had some guys stand up and really just say, 'We came here to play some baseball, and we don't have any control over what has happened.' We had no control over the violation that occurred, we were unaware of it, all we really have control over is what happens on the baseball field, and that's what they want to focus on. It was a great meeting because I was really worried how they guys were going to take it, but they understand it. They're frustrated with it, but they know they can't do anything about it."
Rodriguez said that some financial aid awards were improperly managed, but he could not elaborate more than with an NCAA investigation on the way.
After a 6-10 start to the season, Pepperdine has won seven of its last eight games heading into this weekend's series against Brigham Young. The Waves were not favored to win the WCC, but no team in the league has dominated its nonconference schedule, and the conference looks wide open.
"It's frustrating, but a mistake was made. It wasn't malicious or on purpose from our coaches or our players," Rodriguez said. "It was just an administrative mistake, and unfortunately we're having to deal with it.
"You kind of look at it from a selfish standpoint, and you're like, 'All this hard work we've done . . . ' I told our guys yesterday, 'This is when your character check is really shown. You work hard because that's what you're supposed to do.' I told our guys if there's a team that can overcome this and deal with it, it's absolutely this one. I've been very proud of them even from the beginning of the year to now. This team has a tremendous amount of character, and I'm looking forward to the last two months of the year."
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