On Saturday the USD Toreros had a chance to be the first team from the Pioneer Football League to earn a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. All they had to do was beat Drake at home. Now, even if they do win the game, it'll be the last one of the season.
On Thursday, USD pulled itself out of contention due to possible rules violations.
During a conversation in September, Director of Athletics Ky Snyder learned there may be a discrepancy in how need-based financial aid was being distributed to student-athletes. The process was in line with school rules, but not with the Pioneer Football League, which is entirely non-scholarship.
"We thought that there was an issue," Snyder said on Thursday. "So, we began a more detailed review in our athletic department. We informed the president [school president Mary Lyons], who hired outside council to do an independent review. That's how we found out we were in violation of the PFL rules."
USD contacted the PFL to report its findings and pulled itself out of the playoff hunt.
The investigation is ongoing but Snyder told NBC 7 San Diego it does not look like a willful violation of the rules, simply an oversight.
Regardless, the football team and its 20 graduating seniors suddenly have to go from controlling their playoff destiny to resigning themselves to the fact they won't have a chance to reach the post-season, and it's because of a mistake that was completely out of their hands.
"They're going through a lot of emotions," said Snyder. "It's not anything that they brought on themselves, but they're the ones paying the penalty for this right now."
Snyder was unsure if there would be any further disciplinary action taken against the program.