Tide Files Notice To Appeal NCAA Penalties

The University of Alabama has notified the NCAA that it intends to appeal the decision of the NCAA Infractions Committee that hammered Alabama's football program two weeks ago. University Attorney Stan Murphy wrote a letter to NCAA President Cedric Dempsey giving notice of the appeal. And Murphy took no chances in making sure the letter was received. It was delivered by mail, by FAX, and hand delivered on Friday.

The letter said that Alabama would appeal both "certain findings made and penaltis inposed" by the Infractions Committee. When Alabama's penalties were announced they were far more harsh than had been expected by The University. After Alabama had self-imposed the loss of 15 scholarships over three years -- itself considered a very harsh penalty for the charges made -- the Infractions Committee tacked on the loss of an additional six scholarships over the three-year period beginning with this year's football recruiting class, and also barred Bama from post-season play for the next two years, cut Alabama's squad limit to 80, and extended probation for The University for five years. The penalties came despite what the committee termed extraordinary work by members of Alabama's compliance staff and despite the fact there were no charges against any University employees or past employees, players, or alumni. All alleged wrong-doing was by boosters who had been disassociated by The University in its self-imposed penalties.

The letter pointed out Alabama's cooperation in the long investigation of the Crimson Tide program for alleged violations committed primarily during the four years under former Head Coach Mike DuBose. It also noted that Alabama had acknowledged responsibility and ascribed appropriate penalties.

The letter spelled out areas to be appealed without limiting grounds for the appeal. Among the areas are:

Application of the repeat violator status based on a basketball case in which Alabama was praised for its efforts in compliance. In addition to being unfair to Alabama, the letter noted that, "It is contrary to the purposes of this association to penalize members for effective compliance and, if allowed to stand, this decision will create a powerful disincentive for member institutions and their supporters to fulfill their duties...."

The use of a secret witness against Alabama, which is in direct violation of an NCAA bylaw.

Failure of the Infractions Committee to understand its own the statute of limitations.

The failure of the NCAA Enforcement Staff to abide by NCAA bylaw regarding informagtion about "violations or potential violations."

The University served notice that it will present its case in person before the Infractions Appeals Committee. That will take place in something more than three months.

After the assembly of the record -- the documentation that will be used by all parties in the appeals process -- Alabama will have 30 days to provide its written appeal. After that the Infractions Committee will have 30 days to file a response. Alabama will then have 14 days to sumbmit a rebuttal. At some point after that the Infractions Appeals Committee will set a date for its hearing.

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