Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The NCAA rejected Alabama's request that it ease sanctions against the football program on Tuesday.

Kentucky denied too
Alabama sought restoration of six scholarships and its bowl eligibility but the appeals committee upheld all the penalties imposed after the program was cited for illegal recruiting by boosters and other infractions.

The appeals report stated that the penalties were appropriate "because the violations in this case were numerous and particularly egregious.''

"But for the unequivocal cooperation of the university, it's very clear the death penalty most probably would have been imposed,'' said Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips, chairman of the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee.

Interim Alabama President J. Barry Mason said university officials "disagree and are disappointed'' with the decision.

In a statement, Mason said the university's arguments for relief "were grounded in fact and well presented both in writing and in our meeting with the appeals committee last month.''

"Through this adversity, we will move forward and become stronger than ever,'' athletic director Mal Moore said.

The NCAA placed Alabama on five years' probation on Feb. 1, tacking on six scholarship cuts to the university's self-imposed reduction of 15, and banning the team from participating in a bowl game for two years.

The infractions committee cited Alabama for illegal recruiting practices by boosters, with chairman Thomas Yeager saying the panel considered the so-called "death penalty'' which would shut down the program for at least one season.

The university also contended that the committee wrongly used the testimony of a secret witness in punishing "a blameless, indeed exemplary, institution.''

The secret witness told the NCAA enforcement staff in March 2000 about an Alabama booster's involvement in the recruitment of defensive lineman Kenny Smith in 1995 and 1996.

Under NCAA policy, no names have been released, but case details appeared to indicate that the witness is an Alabama employee.

Alabama said the testimony of the secret witness was permissible only as background information about illegal actions of a booster in the recruitment of lineman Albert Means in 2000.

The university said the NCAA wrongly used the secret witness to get around a four-year time limit that would have barred the Smith case from even being considered.

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