NCAA withdraws charges against Williams

At a press conference this morning held at the University of Alabama's Bryant Conference Center, former assistant football coach Ivy Williams announced that all charges against him leveled by the NCAA had been withdrawn.

Coach Williams was accompanied by his attorney, Keith Belt, a Birmingham lawyer. "This was probably the most thorough investigation in NCAA history," Belt said. "There was not a nook or cranny left uncovered."

Belt went on to state that during a teleconference last Wednesday involving NCAA investigators and his firm, the NCAA acknowledged that there was "no credible evidence implicating my client in any way in the allegations. The NCAA did the right thing in withdrawing the charges."

Williams had been implicated in the alleged scheme to sell the signature of Albert Means to the highest bidding school. Means, then a highly touted defensive tackle recruit from Memphis, ended up signing with Alabama. Williams was the assistant coach assigned to recruit him.

The source of most of the allegations against Williams was Milton Kirk, an assistant coach for Means' high school team. In various and sometimes conflicting interviews, Kirk has alleged that he and former Trezevant High School Head Coach Lynn Lang asked as much as $200,000, including vehicles and other inducements, to deliver Means' signature on signing day.

Throughout the process, Williams has consistently denied any involvement or knowledge of such a deal.

With his wife and teenage son in the room for support, Williams claimed no hard feelings toward Kirk. "He was just telling a story to get himself off the hook," Williams said of Kirk. "You guys (the media) took it and ran with it."

"To those that were listening, I said from Day one that I wasn't involved," Williams continued. "I dealt with the kid. I didn't deal with the coaches. I never talked to the coaches."

Williams acknowledged that Lang maintained tight control over the recruiting process. "I knew that Lynn Lang did some strange things," Williams said. "But others coaches do as well. I couldn't go to Means' home. I couldn't call him at his house. All calls to Albert had to be made to Lang's office with Lang present. But I was able to call when I needed to.

"The same thing happened with Santonio Beard (current Tide tailback from Nashville's Pearl-Cohn High School). His coach demanded to be present also. Nobody said anything about that."

Williams had been cited for two major violations in the September 5 NCAA Letter of Official Inquiry, detailing allegations against Alabama. Charge no. 11 in the letter involved NCAA Bylaw 10.1 (ethical conduct). It alleged that Williams had "provided false and misleading information during an interview with the NCAA enforcement staff."

The allegation was based on the assumption that Williams knew of Lang's conduct, but lied about it to NCAA investigators. But even though several college assistants have testified that they were pitched the deal, Williams' attorney pointed out that numerous others (including Auburn and Nebraska) had refuted Kirk's testimony.

Charge No. 11 has been formerly withdrawn by the NCAA, and the portion of charge No. 3 involving Williams has also been taken off the table. "I have no specific knowledge of the effect," said Belt. "But we would certainly hope this would benefit Alabama."

Williams had also been cited for a secondary violation, involving contact with a recruit during the so-called ‘dead' period. But that violation was not in dispute. It had been self-reported by The University, and self-imposed penalties had been previously accepted by the NCAA.

University compliance officials, including Athletics Director Mal Moore and President Andrew Sorenson, will be in Indianapolis November 17. They will represent Alabama at the formal hearing before the Committee on Compliance. But with this week's developments, Williams will no longer be involved.

"I want to get on with my life and get back to coaching," Williams said. "I'm happy for my family. It never bothered me, but they had to read in the paper about all this. I worried about my credibility and my name."

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