For those of you pinning your hopes on a successful appeal by Georgia Tech to the NCAA of its sanctions, I’m going to tell you that it doesn’t look good. I hope to develop this a little more for a story, but at the very least, the numbers are against president G.P. “Bud” Peterson and athletic director Dan Radakovich.
Since the NCAA changed its appeals process in 2008, the appeals committee has heard 13 cases and overturned just one of them. And that’s only the schools that decided to take a crack at an appeal. As of Monday, Tech had not made a decision on an appeal It has until July 28.
The NCAA considers four standards for overturning a decision.
Most appeals, it appears, try to use the last standard, but it’s become more difficult since the NCAA changed its bylaws in 2008. Previously, an appeal could be won if the appeals committee determined the penalty was inappropriate based on evidence and circumstance. Concluding a penalty is inappropriate is one thing. Finding that the infractions committee was “abusive” in its discretion is something different. (Interesting to note: Tech’s successful appeal in 2005 was reportedly part of the reason why the bylaws changed.)
Another reason is the weight the NCAA gives to cooperation. One report, a denial of a Florida State appeal, cited a precedent that institutional cooperation must be “a significant factor and given substantial weight in determining penalties.”
You might think that taking away an ACC title over $312 worth of clothes is excessive, but that’s not the way the NCAA sees it. It took away the title because of the cooperation violations, which it termed “extremely serious violations” that warranted “stringent penalties.”
It’s possible the appeals committee might see things Georgia Tech’s way regarding its attempt to cooperate, but Radakovich and Peterson both acknowledged they could have done things differently and Radakovich’s decision to tell coach Paul Johnson about the NCAA’s intention to interview Morgan Burnett in defiance of NCAA orders is incontrovertible. (We can debate how fair or wise the order was, but I don’t think the appeals committee will take it into consideration.)
In short – cooperating (in the way that the NCAA wants to be cooperated with) is important, and Georgia Tech didn’t toe the line, and that is not good news for an appeal.
It could be argued that Demaryius Thomas didn’t actually break NCAA rules, which is one of the other standards for appeal. He was hardly definitive about where he got the clothes. However, the appeals committee’s role is not to try the case again, so I don’t think it matters in this situation.
Tech has another strike against it because it’s a repeat violator. It’s another reason that the penalty was as harsh as it was. I’m going to talk shortly with an attorney who led the only successful appeal of an NCAA case since 2008. We’ll see what he has to say.
Thanks for reading. Please follow on Facebook and Twitter!
P.S. Sorry for the break in the position breakdowns. They’ll resume Wednesday.
Ken Sugiura, AJC