The NCAA's response letter to Florida State was released today, and it looks like FSU is going to lose their appeal. In a lengthy release the NCAA Committee on Infractions had this to say:
"In light of these aggravating factors, the university cannot begin to make its required showing that the vacation of records is 'excessive such that it constitutes and abuse of discretion' by the Committee on Infractions. Thus, it takes every opportunity to try to minimize the violations and to deflect attention from the wrongdoing by portraying this case as some sort of 'philosophical' battle between the COI and the IAC.
"At bottom, though, this is a case about dozens of student-athletes (aided by their academic advisors) cheating, gaining fraudulent academic credit and then competing while ineligible due to their academic misconduct. Under such circumstances, what possibly could be 'fair' about allowing the contest results to stand."
One of FSU's main defenses is that no student was charged with violating the school's honor code. The COI disagrees as one of the exams at the heart of the issue had explicit instructions for the students:
"That is disingenuous at best in light of the explicit exam instructions set forth above. And the fact of the matter is that fifteen student athletes did sign agreements during the initial stages of the reinstatement process acknowledging that they "cheated" in violation of the university's academic honor policy; those findings were later rosined as part of the global reinstatement remedy the university negotiated with the NCAA student-athlete reinstatement staff."
The COI can impose vacation of wins when any of seven factors are found (academic fraud, serious intentional violations among them). In previous cases the COI found violations that fit the bill for the loss of wins, and in this case the COI said the FSU case was the first time in at least 10 years that the COI found egregious academic fraud and all the other factors.
That leaves FSU with an awfully long and rough uphill climb to win this fight. There will be another hearing sometime this fall as FSU tries to argue they did what they felt was enough: self-reporting, suspending players, etc.
But in the end, is the continued negative publicity worth it? It seems as though the committee is following similar cases like Texas A&M-CC, FIU and others as a guideline for punishment. Those verdicts remained, and it looks like FSU will lose the victories in football, and possibly lose a track National Title. Simply put FSU put the blame on staff members, but the NCAA hold the upper echelon of the university responsible. That is a hard argument to win, and that is why FSU backed off of the initial statements that it was all on Brenda Monk.
Listen, the university owes a lot to Bobby Bowden as he is a major reason why the university is what they are today. Here, though, it looks like enough is enough. It is a grandiose goal to have the all-time record especially if they lose the wins. FSU football has been trending down since the won the title at the start of the decade.
It is time to make wholesale changes to the program and the academic department. FSU needs to make some hard decisions, but they are decisions that in the long-run are better for the program and the university as a whole.
NoleDigest.com's Take on the NCAA Ruling
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