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Sep 17, 2002

University of Alabama responses to the appeal decision

Featuring: Robert T. Cunningham 

Statements concerning today's NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee Ruling, from University of Alabama Interim President J. Barry Mason, Athletics Director Mal Moore, Football Coach Dennis Franchione and Independent Counsel Robert T. Cunningham, Jr. 

Statement from Interim President J. Barry Mason: 
"Obviously, we disagree and are disappointed with the findings of the Infractions Appeals Committee. Our arguments for appeal of the severity of the sanctions were grounded in fact and well presented both in writing and in our meeting with the Appeals Committee last month. Despite the hard work of our compliance staff, attorneys, and many others who worked with great resolve, we did not receive the outcome we sought. 

"Moving forward with a positive outlook and competitive spirit may be a difficult task, but I have great faith in our coaches, our athletics department leadership, our student athletes, and in the entire University of Alabama family. Our student athletes have demonstrated their resiliency by working hard on the field and in the classroom, taking charge of those things within their control, and standing tall against the challenge of hardships that were not of their making. In difficult times, I am reminded that universities are truly remarkable institutions of the people and seem to inevitably weather whatever crisis comes along and to emerge stronger than ever. Certainly that is the case at The University of Alabama. Despite this setback, we remain well positioned for the future." 

Statement from Athletics Director Mal Moore: 
"We received notification from the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee on Monday afternoon. Our appeal was made on what we considered a very strong case and we are disappointed with the result. 

"I believe in Coach Fran and his staff and am confident he is the man who can lead this football program back through these trying times. 

"Through this adversity, we will move forward and become stronger than ever. As Athletics Director, it is my duty to see that we do not ever again find ourselves in this situation and I will work diligently to that end. 

"I deeply appreciate the Crimson Tide players who have represented this University under some very trying circumstances. I also appreciate our loyal alumni, supporters and fans who have stuck by us during these very difficult times. I thank them for their continued support." 

Statement from Football Coach Dennis Franchione: 
"Nothing has really changed from my standpoint. We have worked our plan based on last February's ruling and we will stay the course. 

"From this point on, we're on the downhill side of this issue and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. We will maintain our focus over that which we have control and work hard to put this situation behind us." 

Statement from Independent Counsel Robert T. Cunningham, Jr. 
"Today the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee announced its decision affirming significant penalties, including a two-year ban on pre and post season play, against The University of Alabama football program. These penalties, and particularly the two year bowl ban, are unprecedented. In the history of the NCAA, no member institution has ever received a ban on post season play in the absence of institutional culpability. Despite the Committee on Infractions' specific findings that Alabama had taken all possible steps to prevent misconduct by its rogue boosters, the Infractions Appeals Committee has upheld a sanction which it admits is "one of the most serious penalties that can be imposed on an institution." 

"In the briefs and evidence presented by the University to the Infractions Appeals Committee, we carefully analyzed the history of sanctions imposed against other institutions since 1988, when the principle of institutional control first became part of NCAA jurisprudence. That history shows, without contradiction, that no institution has ever received a post season ban of any length in the absence of specific findings of lack of institutional control failure to monitor, or unethical institutional conduct. Even among institutions with previous NCAA violations, there has never been a post season ban imposed. In the ten instances in which repeat violators have received a one year post season ban, all of them included findings of lack of institutional control, failure to monitor, or unethical institutional conduct. The University's analysis of this history was never refuted or even challenged by the Committee on Infractions. 

"In its decision, the Infractions Appeals Committee cites only one case as precedent for imposing significant sanctions in the absence of institutional culpability, the UNLV case in 2001, which the IAC claims resulted in a one year ban on post season play, despite no findings of lack of institutional control or failure to monitor. The IAC is flatly wrong in this regard. The UNLV case included specific findings of failure to monitor. In addition, the violations were "remarkably similar" to previous violations. Despite these differences, UNLV received only a one year ban on post season competition. Rather than support the sanction imposed on Alabama, we believe the UNLV case actually supports a reduction of that sanction and we are astounded by an error so fundamental and critical to the IAC's decision."

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