Alabama's Response To NCAA Letter Of Inquiry

Here is the nuts and bolts of the response of The University of Alabama to the NCAA Committee on Infractions regarding the Official Letter of Inquiry into irregularities in the Crimson Tide football program.

This response, which is organized along the same lines of the Official Letter, provides The University's position on each of the 16 allegations that remained after the NCAA withdrew charges against former Assistant Coaches Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy Williams. The University is required to respond to each allegation with a contention that the charge is not true, an agreement that the charge is true, or a belief that there is no conclusive evidence to make such a determination.

Prior to the release of the response there were reports that Alabama had made a "vigorous" defense and that there would be "shocking" news. From a reading of the summarized response, neither appears to be the case.

The response also included Alabama's self-imposed penalties. These measures include:

Disassociation of three boosters. (Although the response, approximately 750 pages, is redacted to exclude identification, widespread publication has identified them as Logan Young of Memphis, disassociated for five years, and Ray Keller of Stevenson and Kendell Smith of Chattanooga, seven years each.)

A reduction in initial scholarships to total 15 over three years, eight the first year, four the second, and three the third. That means, Alabama will be able to sign a maximum of 17 in 2002, sign no more than 21 in 2003, and no more than 22 in 2004. A school may ordinarily sign 25 per year.

Alabama will reduce the number of official visits by football prospects by 22 this recruiting year, by 12 prior to the 2003 signing period, and by 10 prior to the 2004 signing period. Ordinarily a school is allowed 56 official visits per signing period.

Alabama will have no more than six coaches off campus recruiting at any one time between December 1, 2001, and December 1, 2002. Ordinarily seven coaches are permitted off campus at any one time.

The Infractions Committee heard Alabama's response on November 17 and is expected to render its verdict in January. It may or may not accept the self-imposed penalties.

Briefly, here is a recap of each allegation and Alabama's response:

1.) That a booster (thought to be Kendell Smith) of The University paid a prospect (thought to be Kenny Smith of Stevenson) in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

Alabama's response was that money probably was paid to the propsect and/or his family, but there is no evidence of the source and, in any event, the statute of limitations applies.

2.) Meals were provided by an Alabama booster (thought to be Ray Keller) for a prospect (thought to be Kenny Smith) and his father in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

The University agreed with this allegation.

3.) That a prospect (Albert Means) was "shopped" by his high school coaches (Head Coach Lynn Lang and Assistant Coach Milton Kirk) and that Logan Young offered $115,000 to his high school coach and that Alabama Assistant Coach Ivy Williams was aware of this.

The University agreed that Means' coaches tried to benefit, but said there is insufficient evidence to conclude that payments took place or, if they did, what the source of those payments were. The University maintained that its disassociation of Young for charges for which there was no evidence was sufficient.

Albert Means signed with Alabama and played during the 2000 season. However, The University alleges that it should not be punished for gaining a competitive advantage. The NCAA knew about these charges before the season started and did not inform The University.

The charge against Williams was withdrawn.

4.) An improper loan was made from Logan Young to former Assistant Coach Ronnie Cottrell and Cottrell was guilty of unethical conduct because he failed to disclose the existence of the loan.

The University agreed it was accurate that the loan was improper, but took no position on the unethical conduct charge against Cottrell.

5.) Cottrell knew of academic fraud by or for Michael Gaines regarding Gaines' ACT test score, and that Cottrell allowed Gaines to make several long distance telephone calls from Cottrell's office telephone.

(Gaines signed with Alabama, but was not admitted to The University.)

The charge that Cottrell knew of academic fraud was withdrawn. The University agreed telephone calls were made, but considers this a secondary violation.

6.) Lunch and dinner were provided to Lynn Lang, Milton Kirk, and Albert Means at Bryant-Denny Stadium on an unofficial visit Also, lodging for two nights was provided to Lang during Means' official visit. Additionally, improper travel money was provided.

The first two charges were withdrawn. The University agreed to the third charge.

7.) Former Tide player Travis Carroll was provided a vehicle at no cost.

The University disagrees with the allegation and does not agree that the lease agreement constitutes a violation.

8.) Five "$100 handshakes" were made with Alabama football players.

The University agrees that it could have happened, but contends that the evidence is contradictory.

9.) Boosters made improper contact with a prospect.

The University agreed.

10.) In 1998 and 1999, exotic dancers were at parties attended by athletes and prospects.

The University agreed.

11.) Ivy Williams was charged with unethical conduct because he allegedly lied when he denied the allegation that he participated in and denied knowledge of a deal to provide money to the coaches of Means.

The NCAA withdrew the allegation.

The following charges, allegations 12-16, were self-reported by The University and determined to be secondary in nature.

12.) An assistant football coach made improper contact with a prospect.

13.) Harold James, who was certified as academically eligible, was later determined to be not academically qualified. He received athletics benefits while technically ineligible.

The University contends it is not appropriate to impose penalties based on competitive advantage because the NCAA did not disclose information to The University in a timely fashion.

14.) A student-athlete sold two complimentary football tickets.

15.) Cottrell attempted to help former Tide player Shamari Buchanan fix a speeding ticket and allowed Michael Gaines to sleep at Cottrell's house for several hours while Gaines was ill.

(Cottrell had earlier been suspended by The University for the Buchanan affair.)

16.) In the summer of 1999, seventeen student-athletes received financial aid beyond the value of a full grant-in-aid. This involved players being given meal money to eat off campus, then eating meals that were provided for them in a campus cafeteria.

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