School 'cutting scholarships in virtually every sport'

Updated: June 16, 2005, 9:32 PM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida A&M will report "well over 200" violations by the athletic department to the NCAA and recommend scholarship cuts in every sport after a nearly three-year internal investigation.

The announcement Thursday comes just days after football coach Billy Joe was fired for purported recruiting and eligibility violations. The school's findings were forwarded to the NCAA earlier this week, with a list of recommended restrictions, sports information director Alvin Hollins said.

"We're cutting scholarships in virtually every sport. At least one will be cut in every sport, some will have more than one cut," Hollins told The Associated Press. "Some sports will definitely have some restrictions in recruiting. We're also making some severe cuts in our operating budget."

The NCAA is still in the midst of its own investigation of Florida A&M, and a ruling on the infractions and any restrictions is expected this fall.

Among the violations announced by the school in a release Thursday were: Ineligible athletes allowed to compete, improper conduct of coaches concerning a change of grade, recruiting violations and violations of practice time rules.

"We could be looking at multiple years of probation," said Hollins, who added that the school may be forced to refund money from NCAA basketball tournament appearances.

The investigation was the continuation of the one that showed 196 NCAA rules violations throughout Florida A&M's athletics program and led to the school stripping itself of 11 conference titles, including two in football.

Hollins said that was the midpoint of the school's investigation, and the school feels that the number of violations is now "well over 200."

"Compliance and academic support, our failure to upgrade those areas, led to a lot of the problems we have had. ... We just didn't have the proper institutional control," Hollins said.

Joe was one of the school's most successful coaches.

"I think in his case this was a direct result of recruiting violations, exceeding practice times ... violations of NCAA rules were definitely the dynamic in moving Coach Joe," Hollins said. "We held him accountable for the program. You can't afford to look like you're just slapping people on the wrists."

The football program has had a series of problems, beginning when it made an ill-advised attempt to jump to Division I-A. The move was aborted and the school will return to the I-AA Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference this season.

"The timing probably couldn't be any worse," Hollins said.

Financially, athletic programs are struggling and the department budget was cut 20 percent last year.

More cuts are probably likely, Hollins said.

"We were at least $3 million over budget last year, and based on the income projection it's not looking like we're going to balance the budget," he said.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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