The Crimson White (online)
By Alex Merritt
Assistant Sports Editor
September 18, 2002
The NCAA Committee on Infractions announced Tuesday that its original sanctions, including a two-year bowl ban, would be upheld, officially ending Alabama's appeal process.
Most University athletics administrators, including coach Dennis Franchione, maintained a positive mood Tuesday, as they have throughout the entire ordeal.
"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," Franchione said. "We will maintain our focus on that which we have control and work hard to put this situation behind us."
But not everyone was as passive about the decision as Franchione. Robert Cunningham Jr., an independent counsel for the University, took no measures to hide his displeasure.
"These penalties, and particularly the two-year bowl ban, are unprecedented," Cunningham said. "In the history of the NCAA, no member institution has ever received a ban on post-season play in the absence of institutional culpability."
Cunningham pointed to the NCAA's case against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 2001 as evidence that the Infractions Committee is still being heavy-handed in its ruling. In its report, the Infractions Appeals Committee cites the UNLV case as a precedent for penalizing a university with similar sanctions while finding no evidence of institutional wrongdoing. Cunningham disagrees.
"The IAC is flatly wrong in this regard," Cunningham said. "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."
Both Interim President Barry Mason and Athletics Director Mal Moore expressed their displeasure about the outcome and said they were "disappointed" with the results. But they also said the team must move forward and not dwell on the past.
"I believe in Coach Fran and his staff and am confident he is the man who can lead this program back through these trying times," Moore said.