The Bama penalty: Tough on the surface, soft underneath

Alabama makes such an inviting target, what with the houndstooth hats and the braying fans and the abject lack of moderation. And Bama’s most famous salaried employee is the glowering Coach Satan, who makes a mint and smiles never. There are those among us — heck, there are times when I’d have been one of them — who’d say nothing is too harsh for the haughty Crimson Tide.

But this one comes close. Forfeited games over textbooks that weren’t sold for profit? Sixteen programs — 16 of 21, if you’re counting — on probation over textbooks? Heck, at this point shouldn’t we be happy any school’s student-athletes are even interested in textbooks?

The guess is that the NCAA piled on because it tired of seeing those crimson blazers in its hearing room. Alabama forfeited eight victories (plus one tie, as if you can forfeit a non-win) back in 1995 after the violations involving Gene Jelks and his tape recorder and Antonio Langham and his agent. It got hit again with five years’ probation and a two-year bowl ban in 2002 for the Logan Young/Albert Means/Memphis fallout.

Describe Alabama's NCAA penalty.

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But this one didn’t involve money to a recruit or a player. This wasn’t even one of those Kiffin-esque secondary recruiting vioaltions. This one involved textbooks. And that’s surely why the NCAA huffed hard (ordering the 21 forfeits) but didn’t really follow through (no scholarship penalties). This probation was meant to embarrass Alabama for embarrassing the NCAA yet again, not to hamstring the Tide into the next decade.

Naturally, Tide fans won’t see it that way. Naturally, they’ll point to their orange-clad neighbor and moan, “How come Tennessee never gets nailed?” But Bama will just have to bite its tongue and be satisfied with having the better coach — and all its scholarships.

103 comments Add your comment

Ray

June 11th, 2009
7:49 pm

What a joke.

I’m just waiting for the next violation to come to light. Anyone know where I can get a good deal on a car in the Gadsen area? ;-)

Atlanta Gator

June 11th, 2009
7:53 pm

I have mixed feelings about the NCAA sanctions against the University of Alabama.

I am not an apologist for the guilty. I really believe that if you do the crime, your need to be prepared to do the time. But, in this case, the university is being punished for the independent actions of several of its athletes, not its coaches, not its alumni, and not its administration. If anything, the athletic department is guilty of some mild form of negligence for having failed to more closely monitor its textbook distribution program. Clearly, there was no intent to on the school’s part to evade the rules, nor did the school’s athletic teams receive any sort of unfair competitive advantage. Not every stupid crime by a college athlete is the responsibility of the athlete’s institution.

No one received any cash, and the only beneficiaries were the friends of athletes who received free books. The guilty parties are the 7 football players, the other athletes, and their friends. These individuals are arguably guilty of stealing from the university, not that the university is guilty of intentionally distributing unauthorized benefits. Alabama self-reported and relied on the good sense of the NCAA to make the penalty fit the crime. I’m not sure this punishment does.

Rather than vacating wins 2 to 5 years after the fact, I think that ALL of the students who improperly received “free” text books should be forced to repay the costs to the university, with penalties and interest, under threat of criminal sanctions (misdemeanor or potentially felony theft charges, depending on the dollar amounts involved). They knew, or should have known, that they were receiving these benefits improperly under NCAA rules, and almost certainly illegally under state law (i.e. theft by deception).

As for the athletes, they are also guilty of stealing from the university, too, even if they were not the ultimate recipients of the benefits. To the extent they still have remaining NCAA eligibility, they should be punished prospectively, not retroactively. By declaring them retroactively ineligible, only the school is punished. By declaring the responsible athletes ineligible for part or all of the 2009-10 season, the truly guilty parties would be punished. That would provide real deterrence to college athletes from acting in ways that hard the interests of their athletic programs and universities.

Alabama should appeal, and should propose more fitting punishments of those directly responsible.

BAMA STAN

June 11th, 2009
7:53 pm

12 NATIONAL TITLES – 21 SEC TITLES

Not worried about Tennessee – most Bama fans actually feel that we deserved the punishment we received.

Every school has to be held accounatable – PERIOD.

Bama deserved the probation due to the actions or our staff under DuBose.

If a few BAMA fans want to point fingers at Fulmer and Tennessee … and Spurrier – for turning us in – that is their problem. I am glad they turned us in so that we could fix the problem – no matter how painful and embarrassing the situation was – we are in better shape because we got caught – and was forced to deal with some reality.

BAMA needs to focus on being the best they can be – with high morales and accountability.

The TEXTBOOKGATE is an embarrassment – but no coaches or staff were involved – no competitive advantage gained – no profits were made by the players – just stupid young adults taking advantage of a benefit – thinking they will not get caught.

I hope we do not appeal – let’s take our punishment and move forward. Need to be accountable.

WITH THAT SAID……….ROLLLLL TIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

luckydog

June 11th, 2009
7:55 pm

Prior to 1964 NCAA penalties were very rare.

DawgMAN

June 11th, 2009
7:57 pm

WOW BamaStan – surprised you are not moaning and crying and making excuses and whining about PHAT PHIL and stuff. Enjoy reading your post and glad to see you being a standup guy and all.

gatorman770

June 11th, 2009
7:57 pm

When will the NCAA get around to busting USC for Bush’s momma’s free house or will they remain “untouchables”? I guess a free house to a players momma is not like money to a recruit or a player.

buckblue

June 11th, 2009
7:57 pm

I heard they are going to change their name to Criminal Tide…..formerly known as the payroll tide….what a joke…..

UGA 4ever

June 11th, 2009
8:00 pm

Nothing more obnoxious than 18 to 21 year olds thinking that they are adults!!! More embarrasment for Alabama – we have had our embarrassing moments as well.

Apprciate Bama Stan’s post.

GO DAWGS!!!!

buckblue

June 11th, 2009
8:00 pm

I guess we can’t make any more jokes about the criminal tide losing to UL Monroe….the game never existed…..

joewillie

June 11th, 2009
8:05 pm

In the ongoing dinner theater known as Being Alabama only the actors change. The roles remain the same.

Bear’s School went on NCAA probation Thursday for the fourth time in 14 years. Something about a textbook scandal. The details aren’t really important. There are major violations, but only because Alabama is to the rulebook what Michael Vick is to pit bulls. A constant, menacing threat.

The question has become when aren’t there major violations in Tuscaloosa? The latest penalties mean that ‘Bama has been eligible to be an NCAA repeat offender since 1995. Alabama has been committing major violations while serving time for major violations.

Seriously, the Tide need to clean up their act. (Getty Images)
One slip-up during the five-year repeat violator statute of limitations is considered serious. It makes a program eligible for the NCAA death penalty. At Alabama, they scoff. It’s a Crimson and White Groundhog Day every day.

By the time Alabama’s latest NCAA repeat offender clock stops ticking it will be 2014. That’s 19 years of — as one infractions committee chairman once put it — “staring down the barrel of a gun” for the program. Nineteen years of being on death row.

If this is staring down the barrel of a gun, then ‘Bama is Dirty Harry. Make the Tide’s day. Alabama’s romp through the rules and regs is a clear indicator that SMU’s death penalty in 1987 will be the one and only such punishment ever handed down. The NCAA will never again drop the hammer because in the Yellowhammer State we’ve seen that nobody does it better. Or worse.

And keeps playing games.

• Alabama must vacate victories

Any other school would get a swat on the butt for what was announced Thursday. Apparently players were using leftover textbook money from their scholarships to buy books for friends and relatives. Big whoop.

Alabama, though, is being forced to vacate victories under Mike Shula (2005-06) and Nick Saban (2007). Could be as many as 23. This isn’t Bobby Bowden controversial. Some Tide fans will likely say good riddance to forgettable 6-7 and 7-6 seasons in ‘06 and ‘07.

Once again, big whoop.

There seems to be, though, a new age of wrongdoing. Some sort of anarchy has broken out. We knew the NCAA enforcement staff was outmanned. Now it is being outsmarted. The NCAA cops apparently sleep. The coaches? Not so sure. They are looking for ways to cut corners whether their compliance directors like it or not.

A couple of years ago the coaches were up in arms about a ban on texting. Now we’ve got Twitter, and it’s legal, until the next technology evolves to hound recruits.

Saban got around a spring ban on head coaches meeting face-to-face with recruits by installing a webcam.

Lane Kiffin is practically daring to the NCAA to come in and do something about his secondary violations.

Auburn didn’t know when it had a good thing going. It used limousines during a recruiting sweep this offseason (legal). Then it went out and allowed recruits to T.P. trees at Toomer’s Corner (perhaps illegal).

“I’ve seen schools with 10-12 secondary violations in a year,” one compliance director said, “20-30 in a year.”

There seemingly is no downside for the rules benders. If the violations are serious enough, all you have to do is get lawyered up with one of a myriad NCAA troubleshooters out there. You thought USC was in trouble? Yes, but Tim Floyd’s resignation this week actually helps the Trojans. The cleansing has begun with one of the rogues out of the picture.

You might have heard that Florida State is dealing with an academic scandal. But the only reason anyone cares is that the penalties might impact Bowden’s career victories. Never mind the fact that FSU is tied for second all-time on the major infractions list.

The guy you feel for is SEC commissioner Mike Slive. He sits in the middle of the slime. His noble goal was to get the conference probation free by summer 2008. Only Arkansas track penalties stood in the way, until now.

Alabama being the granddaddy of shredding the NCAA rulebook seems to be kicking off another round of unprecedented turbulence. How do we know this?

On Sept. 29, 2007 Florida State defeated Alabama in Jacksonville. In hindsight, the game might be the first in history that neither school had a chance to win. The NCAA is looking into whether both schools will vacate victories from that season.

David C

June 11th, 2009
8:14 pm

If 15 out of 21 programs isn’t “lack of institutional control” I don’t know what is

PaulC

June 11th, 2009
8:21 pm

Bama will get in trouble again sooner or later. Cheating is part of their DNA. There is a situation in Memphis which warrants attention that’s coming very close to the Albert Means situation. Bama fans may think they got off scot free this time but it’s only a matter of time before the axe falls. The sun rises, the sun sets, and the University of Alabama runs a corrupt program. Sorry Bamers, those are just facts of life.

Gator Growl

June 11th, 2009
8:21 pm

Didn’t give Bama any competitive advantage…punishment was about right for the crime…

Gator Growl

June 11th, 2009
8:25 pm

As far as Tennessees NCAA punishment…that will start Sept 19th.

Silver Skillet

June 11th, 2009
8:39 pm

The Big Bad NCAA put Alabama on three years probation and ordered the university to pay a fine of $43,900 as well as vacate an unspecified number of victories from 2005 through 2007.

The crime? A total of 201 student-athletes, spanning 16 different sports at the university, received what the NCAA terms as “extra benefits” because of loopholes that were present at that time in the university’s textbook distribution system.

Initially, five members of the football team – former players Antoine Caldwell, Glen Coffee and Marlon Davis and current players Marquis Johnson and Chris Rogers – were identified as being involved in the improprieties. After further investigation, it was determined two additional football players were involved, but they have not been identified.

1) No coaches or staff members were involved

2) There was no competitive edge gained by the indiscretions

3) Not one student-athlete pocketed even a single dollar in the scandal

Alabama self-reported the indiscretions to both the SEC and NCAA, promptly suspended the offending players, conducted its own comprehensive self-investigation into the matter and took a proactive approach to fixing the infrastructure problems that led to the indiscretions. Students also had to repay the cost of the optional textbooks they improperly received.

I smell an appeal and rightfully so……

JoeB

June 11th, 2009
8:45 pm

PaulC, Remember Ga also paid for Albert Means and so did Tenn. Just that Bama paid more and got him, and was turned in….

K-Town Dawg

June 11th, 2009
8:56 pm

Where is ROSWELL ED?
I figured he would be all over this.

Mark Bradley

June 11th, 2009
8:59 pm

Mal Moore. Mal Function. Just saying.

bird

June 11th, 2009
9:10 pm

Yall hoping Bama would have gotten the worst is to funny..lol! ROLL TIDE!!!

wawel78

June 11th, 2009
9:14 pm

I’m still trying to figure out the point of this one – either punish the program or move along and nothing to see here. Taking away wins is about the dumbest punishment I’ve ever heard.

bigcooterb

June 11th, 2009
9:33 pm

My guess is there is not a school in the country where this does not happen. Kids being kids do things like this because they can.

Diamond Dawg

June 11th, 2009
9:35 pm

Nice job Bamers!! You guys are ridiculous. Now it makes sense as to how they looked so confused against Utah! Can’t read!

Ryno

June 11th, 2009
9:37 pm

The worst part of the deal is that Bama was already under probation for previous infractions when these new ones happened. They didn’t even get out from under the last ones before these popped up. Can someone tell me about the records that allegedly disappeared from Bama offices in 2005? If true, that COULD signal a coverup of more serious things. I don’t know that or am accusing that, but it would be good to get the scoop on that.

bamabone

June 11th, 2009
9:38 pm

bird has it right: any SEC fan rooting for another SEC school to get nailed by the NCAA is beyond contempt. now, rooting for Notre Dame or USC to get their just desserts…that’s just good clean fun. RTR!

Frozen_Gator

June 11th, 2009
9:46 pm

I believe that the penalties were too stiff. If Bama had all of their vacated wins they would be 1,2,or 3 in all-time wins and that is important. I’m not jealous but I certainly respect it………The more pressing problem though is Alabama will have to walk on egg shells for 5 more years………. A student called Finebaum and there is a way to make a buck. The athlete sells a $200 book for $100. He keeps the C note and the student gets his money back when he turns the book in at end of the term. Isn’t America great! Of course I’m sure that never happened………..I guess no one ever helped Corrine Brown-D-FL get any books………Hope Bama does well and we don’t have any more arrests….Go Gators

WinderDawg

June 11th, 2009
9:51 pm

Here is to hoping that the SEC, which has long been known as one of the best, if not the best confrences in the country, will clean up it’s act.Alabama gets a slap on the wrist, because they are Alabama. All of the schools in the confrence,UGA included, need to tighten up on all this BS thats going on. I thought it was bad when we had Danny Ford and Jackie Sherrell but that dumbA$$ in Tenn, and The fool at Auburn are bringing more negative attention to us.As much as i hate Spurrier, he runs a clean program. Theres something to be said for that. As far as Alabama goes, while i respect the tradition, they should know better. But some people never learn. I lived in Dallas, TX when SMU got the death penalty, and they have never recovered, so who are we?, the next SWC? a renagade confrence that will one day be busted up? I hope not, but then again, the southwest confrence thought they were above reproach too.

North GA Nole

June 11th, 2009
9:54 pm

joewillie – name your source on the list of major infractions…

Ricky

June 11th, 2009
10:00 pm

Looks like a lot of Dawg fans are still upset about getting their A$$e$ handed to them by Bama last year.

OleManBourbon

June 11th, 2009
10:05 pm

So obvious which comments are written by Auburn fans. . .

Frozen_Gator

June 11th, 2009
10:06 pm

BTW……..I wonder if that #@$%^^& coach fron ut Lame kitten will have some classless remark to say about this.

bamaguy

June 11th, 2009
10:20 pm

Alabama wins a National Championship while on probation. Enough said.

Bama is America's Team

June 11th, 2009
10:25 pm

This fall Bama on probation but will still be kicking A$$!

Ted Striker

June 11th, 2009
10:26 pm

Maybe Alabama dodged a bullet on vacating additional games — if this also took place prior to 2005. Quoting Paul Dee, chair of the NCAA Infractions Committee: “The university could not produce records before the 2005 fall semester, so it’s unclear if similar violations occurred earlier.”

This isn’t apples to apples but this ruling doesn’t seem to bode well for Bobby Bowden and Florida State.

(And I still think that USC should have been required to vacate the national championship over the Reggie Bush fiasco).

FL DAWG

June 11th, 2009
10:33 pm

All in all bama got of lucky considering some of these infractions happened while they were on probation. The punishment fit the crime. Had they suspended the players still on the roster the punishment would have still fit the crime. Bama got the lesser of two rational punenalties. Hopefully, all SEC schools will clean up their own miss givings and the league will be better off because of it. Watch your step Bama for five more years. Go Dawgs!

Joke

June 11th, 2009
10:41 pm

Ah, the $EC..the situational ethics conference. Bama on probation….shcoker. Tennessee threw death threats at a helpless woman prof. who couldn’t help but call out abject fraud among student atheletes. 24 gators arrested in 2 years, including one guy chocking his grilfriend and another using a dead girls credit cards. Don’t forget probations at the other schools in the past 10-20 years, save dear ole Vandy.

Gotta love it when it’s proudly admitted, “if ya ain’t cheatin, you ain’t tryin.” Karma is a $#%^… lowdy, help us all.

Mark Bradley

June 11th, 2009
10:43 pm

Didn’t Paul W. Bryant make some joke about coloring books burning when Auburn’s library caught on fire?

Rolltide23

June 11th, 2009
10:46 pm

There are no excuses for cheating. But the NCAA has so many rules. Iam sure half of the coaching staff and players don’t know all of them. D-1 college football programs are making millions and millions from these athletes but the athlete cannot even work a summer job and get paid. Some of the players comes from very poor families. The NCAA should allow stipends for the players and that would eliminate all of the cheating.

Milburn Drysdale

June 11th, 2009
10:53 pm

Ricky, The Dawgs fans are upset? About what? I didn’t see any posts in here where anyone was hammering on Alabama (except maybe BuckBlue). Mosts posts in here are sticking to subject. Personally, I think these charges are kind of Mickey Mouse,and Lord knows what kind of stuff ALL schools are doing. But last year is so…last year.

reality check

June 11th, 2009
10:56 pm

What coach Bryant said was no joke

Carey

June 11th, 2009
11:04 pm

Your title of this story is misleading. Where did you get a degree from? So what is tough and what is soft Bradley? You make a remark about textbooks, this involved non athlete students getting books not the way you wrote it. The athletes did not get the books for themselves, as that would not be a violation. Poorly written article.

Fact checker

June 11th, 2009
11:11 pm

“Fifteen programs — 15 of 21, if you’re counting — on probation over textbooks?”

Actually, men’s and women’s track & field programs is probably counted as six of Alabama’s 21 sports (men’s cross country, women’s cross country, men’s indoor track, women’s indoor track, men’s outdoor track and women’s outdoor track). That would raise the participation to 19 of 21 sports.

Can anyone name the two clean programs in Tuscaloosa?

Fact checker

June 11th, 2009
11:15 pm

Fact checker is not an editor, therefore…make “men’s and women’s track and field programs ARE probably counted”

oldmac

June 11th, 2009
11:22 pm

Heck everybody knows that “the Bear” invented the “hundred dollar handshake” and stuffin’ cash in the shoes in the locker room. Nothing new from them.
JB

John Doe

June 11th, 2009
11:48 pm

Never heard of Mark Bradley until tonight. After reading his Blog about Alabama, I understand why. Why so bias? Coach Satan? “Bama’s most famous salaried employee”? You need to go back to high school English and learn a few things. For example, don’t start a sentence with, And. “Naturally, Tide fans won’t see it that way. Naturally, they’ll point to their orange-clad neighbor and moan, “How come Tennessee never gets nailed?” Really? Probably not. Bama hates UT but Bama is not a bunch of cry tits and take responsibilty for what has happened. Read the press releases and statements.
Guess this goes to show that anyone can do anything! You don’t need a clue as to what’s going on, just paraphrase something you just read off the AP.
One last thing, Bama has 12 National titles and 21 SEC titles. WHO BETTER?!
ROLL TIDE!!!

[...] Mark Bradley | ajc.com – [...]

Tide fan

June 12th, 2009
12:02 am

Buckblue,

You just may be the all time stupidest person to post on here. We should change our name from crimson tide to criminal tide or parole tide? Are you just stupid?

As Atlanta Gator points out this isn’t about the administration, the coaching staff, or anyone affiliated with the university doing any cheating. Its about some kids who figured out there was a loophole in the textbook distribution system and they started gaming the system to get some textbooks for their friends, girlfriends, etc.

And your bit about wiping the La-Monroe game off the books as if the game was never played! Wins are vacated, not losses you freaking ignoramus dumbazz!

Tide fan

June 12th, 2009
12:04 am

Mark,

It was Steve Spurrier that made that joke about Auburn.

RealDawg

June 12th, 2009
12:31 am

The penalty is way to light. You have the athletes, the students they “gave” them to, their friends, etc. Do you think for a second that none of the dozens of coaches of the 16 teams had any idea this was going on for some time? Also, there is no way in the hundreds of transactions that a student didn’t get something back for their kindness.

Current nor future players not involved should be punished BUT the athletics program should be hit in the pocket book much greater than $40k. Call it a stupid tax.

swgaboy

June 12th, 2009
12:50 am

Already on probation, and yet no repeat offender status? What’s going on with the NCAA? The textbook scandal on its own isn’t that serious in my opinion. BUT what they are already on probation for is extremely serious. That should mean that Alabama should have to be squeaky clean throughout its probation process. Clearly it’s not. This should have resulted in loss of schollies and post season appearances.

baconboy

June 12th, 2009
1:02 am

I think Ted Striker, above, may have hit the nail on the head. I think the real target here may be FSU. By vacating these wins they set a precedent they can appeal to when they take away those wins from Bobby Bowden. If I was Bowden, I’d be really, really nervous.