DWC loses 5 victories; postseason in question after penalty for ineligible player

NASHUA – It’s now quite possible that Saturday’s final game of the Daniel Webster College regular season at the school’s Mario Vagge Gym will be the Eagles’ final men’s basketball game, period.

That’s because the school received word on Friday it loses five wins in the New England Collegiate Conference due to the discovery of an ineligible player who appeared as a reserve in eight games, five of them conference games/wins. School officials said the error was purely administrative in nature.

The NECC and NCAA will not have the Eagles forfeit those five wins into losses, according to school officials. But the team does go from an 8-7 league mark to 3-7, vastly reducing DWC’s chances of making next week’s conference tournament. The Eagles drop from fourth place in the NECC to seventh place by Regis (6-9 NECC). The top six teams make the conference tournament.

If the Eagles miss the postseason, with the school closing this spring, Saturday’s 1 p.m. game versus Southern Vermont would be the final men’s hoop game, period.

A statement released by the school on Friday said the eligibility error was discovered earlier this month.

"After a thorough review, the College determined that the student-athlete should have been declared ineligible for competition," the statement said, adding "Once the error was discovered, the College took immediate steps to self-report to the conference office and the NCAA. … We deeply regret the error and the College bears ultimate responsibility."

The news has added to the Eagles’ frustration that the program is ending.

"Obviously it’s disappointing," associate athletic director Ken Belbin said. "Basketball is the oldest sport the institution has had, it has a long history. It was an obvious mistake at the administrative level."

This is the third time in the last six years the school has discovered basketball eligibility errors. It was forced to forfeit games in men’s hoop in 2013-14, and in women’s basketball in 2010-11. Ironically, despite the forfeitures, that Eagle women’s team won the NECC title and played in the NCAA Division III tournament.