NCAA ruling no great surprise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 17, 2002

On Tuesday, the final verdict was handed down to the University of Alabama football program from the NCAA's committee on appeals regarding the sanctions handed down to the Tide program by the governing body of collegiate athletics in February.

And the verdict was hardly a surprising one.

The NCAA upheld all of the sanctions against the Tide program, which included a two-year ban on postseason play, a five-year probationary status overall and the loss of 21 scholarships over a three-year period.

While there is no doubt that the Crimson Tide program has been a program in need of repair due to indiscretions by past coaches and boosters which have since been excommunicated from the program, by most accounts the penalties given to the University were excessive and most observers felt that at least one season of postseason play should have been restored.

And while the University's representatives fought a valiant fight to battle the harsh sanctions, with the NCAA also stating that the Alabama program was perilously close to the dreaded "death penalty," even observers close to the program stated that they were "extremely pessimistic" about the NCAA granting any relief.

Other than those who delight in the Tide's current woes, no one can really argue that the penalties against the Tide program were justified, as the University's representatives have reportedly gone above and beyond in their efforts to cooperate with the NCAA's investigation of the Bama program, what the NCAA referred to as

"rogue boosters" have been disassociated, and all of the coaches mentioned in past allegations no longer can be found on the Capstone.

None of the current players on the Crimson Tide roster were involved with any of the NCAA's charges, which makes it seem particularly unfair that they are having to pay for the past sins of others.

Of course the word "fair" is not one that has been frequently associated with the NCAA, an agency that is supposedly present to enforce rules, but often does not play by fair rules itself.

Much of what the NCAA used in deliberating Alabama's penalties was apparently based on confidential sources and many have felt that Alabama's sanctions should not have been quite so excessive considering that the dreaded lack of institutional control, usually a harbinger of dismal penalties to come, was never mentioned regarding the Tide program.

The NCAA also congratulated the Tide representatives for their efforts in regards to their cooperative efforts, but showed its appreciation by threatening to shut down the school's gridiron program.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Obviously it appears that the NCAA saw a chance once again to topple a big-name program and Alabama's existing penalties are the result of that.

What is even more discouraging for Alabama supporters, however, is that the NCAA's shockingly quick decision regarding the Tide's appeal appears to show that Bama's defense of its penalties was given little consideration.

One can only expect now that the University will possibly continue its fight against the penalties, perhaps with a lawsuit, and perhaps that is the best road for the University to take at this point.