Five sports, including the football program, have been implicated in players receiving nearly $5,000 in improper benefits, including housing and food. Most of the violations seem minor in scope, but a women's tennis player also received thousands of dollars from coaches and was also allowed to compete for BSU without being enrolled, which is a HUGE no-no.
The big violation goes directly against the NCAA's core principle of the "student-athlete", and it holds this principle as absolutely sacred. Violating that principle, plus the collective mass of other violations accumulated by BSU athletics programs over the last couple of years, is apparently what led the NCAA to level the notoriously severe charge.
SBNation's Boise State site, One Bronco Nation Under God, has a very good rundown of the major stories surrounding the violations, along with many responses that recent Florida State fans might find quite familiar.
The football team self-reported violations of housing rules that happened from 2004-08. Coach Petersen's 2009 solution-coaches arranging summer housing for incoming freshmen-was itself a violation of NCAA housing rules.
The big one: The timeline of the Women's Tennis eligibility incident. The scope of the wrongdoing is breathtaking.