VETTEL: FSU Scandal IS a Big Deal

It hasn't gotten the national attention it would have if the Seminoles were 10-2 and headed to the Orange Bowl ranked seventh in the nation; but the academic fraud scandal in Tallahassee is definitely a significant problem for the folks in Tallahassee.

If an ESPN report proves to be accurate some 20-25 FSU players could be suspended for the upcoming bowl game with Kentucky as well as the first three games of next season.

The scandal centers on two former academic advisors/counselors that allegedly provided answers for written and on-line exams, filled out answer sheets and wrote papers. If true, there are a number of issues that could keep the powers that be in Tallahassee quite busy.

Institutional Control --- The two-word phrase that sends shockwaves through an athletic department is certainly in play here. Since the cheating was allegedly coordinator by two school employees that's an institutional issue right there. FSU will have to convince the NCAA they had control of their academic people even though those people are the ones responsible for the scandal. That'll take more political double talk than T.K. Wetherell ever offered as Speaker of the Florida House.

Academic Ineligibility --- Florida State's initial report to the NCAA back in September indicated that 23 student-athletes in a variety of sports may have gotten answers to exams and other illegal assistance. If so, what happened to them? On most campuses academic fraud leads to penalties ranging from a suspension of student privileges, to one semester suspension from school to full expulsion. What happened in this case? If they received preferential treatment from what the student conduct code calls for you have the possibility of forfeitures being ordered.

Playing the bowl game --- Kentucky was a slight favorite over FSU for the Music City Bowl and now might be a prohibitive one. FSU fans will arrive in Nashville by the dozens, while there may be 40,000 Wildcat partisans in the stands. We know Florida State will be hurting depth-wise, but how many truly significant players won't be playing? Until we know that it's hard to figure just how tough it will be for the Seminoles to be competitive.

Recruiting --- This is probably the least of their concerns right now, but if there appears to be a strong case for sanctions before the end of January it has to become an issue. Do high school stars really want to sign up for a school that is on its way to the NCAA Committee on Infractions? Are parents going to be comfortable sending their kids off to a program that might be down 200 or more players early next year? There's a lot of damage control be done in this area.

Jimbo Fisher --- Might the "coach in waiting" look to get out of his commitment, claiming the school didn't adequately inform him of the seriousness of this situation? It wouldn't shock me, although the best jobs have already been filled.

I take no pleasure in the problems up in Tallahassee, nor should anyone else. As is almost always the case whatever comes down will end up having more impact on the innocent than the guilty. Still those who underplay the significance of this situation are missing the boat. This IS a big deal.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel


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