Tide, Noles Nuts

Bobby Bowden

Alabama and Florida State both found themselves in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions this year. Neither school received major scholarship penalties or any postseason bans. Yet both are keeping their cases in the public eye with ill-advised appeals.

Both schools were guilty of significant violations. In Tallahassee dozens of student athletes committed academic fraud with the assistance of school (not athletic) officials. Those individuals were, thus technically ineligible and competed for the Seminoles in a variety of sports. The NCAA responded with minimal scholarship cuts and ordered forfeiture of all wins in which in the "ineligible" student athletes competed. In Tuscaloosa even more students were involved in using their scholarships to procure tens of thousands of dollars in extra text books. Those student athletes also competed in just about every sport on campus, but the NCAA only ordered forfeits for games the most egregious violators took part – all football games.

Despite these seemingly harmless sanctions which should be more accurately called wrist slaps both institutions are continuing the fight with the powers that be. At FSU the motivation is to keep Bobby Bowden within one win of Joe Paterno in his silly race to be the winningest major college coach of all time. At ‘Bama I'm not certain what the motivation is but I do know this; both schools are making big mistakes.

Instead of burying this issue and moving on Both Florida State and Alabama are ensuring their wrongdoing will remain a public topic of discussion.

As I've written before I don't agree with forfeiture as a punishment by the NCAA and never will. Making believe things that happened didn't really take place is stupid in all situations and particularly so at a supposed institution of higher learning. Scholarship reductions, recruiting limitations and post-season bans will serve as a deterrent to illegal behavior. The threat of eventual forfeiture never has and never will.

There's no doubt the people in charge at both school believe they are doing the right thing, but they're mistaken. The Committee on Infractions tends to dig in its heels when its judgment is challenged. The Seminoles and Crimson Tide would put their resources to better use by sponsoring and pushing legislation that would remove forfeiture as a sanction option in NCAA infractions cases. Such legislation would rid college sports of this inane and ineffective form of "punishment". Of course that will force the Committee to turn to other, more punitive measures, but that's the point. Don't pretend what happened didn't happen. Instead make sure the school where "it" happened pays a severe price for letting "it" take place.

Florida State knew there was something fishy about one particular class long before its internal investigation rooted out all the details. Had the ‘Noles known the penalty for ineligible players competing would be serious scholarship cuts they would have suspended every athlete in that class until they could be cleared. And there's little question Alabama could have been much more aware of what was going on just be looking at the charges on each student-athlete's text book account.

The punishment shouldn't fit the crime. It should exceed the crime. Forfeiture is a counter-productive penalty, but it's better for both schools than scholarships cuts and/or post-season bans. FSU and Alabama should re-direct its efforts and move on from these incidents.

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