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Lowly Caltech joins mighty USC with NCAA sanctions

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POSTED July 12, 2012 11:42 p.m.

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Another storied Southern California university has joined the USC Trojans under the hammer of NCAA sanctions.

The UCLA Bruins? Nope. Would you believe the Caltech Beavers?

The California Institute of Technology has been given a reprimand and penalties for fielding players who were academically ineligible, the NCAA announced Thursday, putting a school whose losing streaks can run into the decades in the company of athletic powerhouses like USC and Oklahoma.

Caltech allowed 30 ineligible players in 12 sports, including baseball, basketball, tennis and swimming, to practice or compete over four academic years, the NCAA said.

The problems came from the school's system of "shopping" for courses, where students attend classes for three weeks at the beginning of a term before registration. That meant that under NCAA rules, some athletes were not considered full-time students when they took the field.

The NCAA blamed a lack of oversight and communication between athletic administrators, coaches and the registrar.

Caltech athletic officials discovered and reported the problems themselves.

The school said in a statement that the violations were inadvertent, and promptly disclosed to the NCAA.

"We very much regret that the high standards we expect of ourselves were not met," the statement said. "We acknowledge our responsibility and have taken all necessary steps to remedy this situation and ensure it does not happen again."

The penalties, many of them self-imposed by the university, include three years of probation, one year of no campus recruiting and the vacating of wins and records.

The Beavers, who compete in NCAA Division III, have taken futility to new heights. The baseball team has lost 237 straight games. The water polo team last year snapped a losing streak that had lasted nine years.

But nothing can match the school's basketball team's epic losing streak for glorious failure.

The basketball Beavers went 310 conference games without a win, a 26-year streak that began in the mid-1980s and finally ended on Feb. 22, 2011.

While basketball is among the sanctioned sports, that victory was legal and will remain on the books.

"It stands," Caltech spokeswoman Deborah Williams-Hedges said. "Thank goodness."

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