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Oklahoma: NCAA unfairly used basketball case to take football wins away

11/3/2007 - Oklahoma Sooners

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The University of Oklahoma claims the NCAA
infractions committee unfairly took previous violations by the
men's basketball into consideration when it stripped the Sooners'
football team of eight wins from the 2005 season.

In an 11-page rebuttal to the infractions committee released
Friday, the university claims an NCAA subcommittee came up with new
"aggravating factors" that didn't exist at the time of Oklahoma's
violations and used them to erase all eight of the Sooners' wins
from their Holiday Bowl season two years ago.

It was the latest development in Oklahoma's ongoing appeal to
regain its 2005 victories and get a "failure to monitor" finding
overturned in the case involving extra payments to former
quarterback Rhett Bomar and former lineman J.D. Quinn by a Norman
car dealership.

"Clearly these standards were not in effect at the time of the
purported monitoring failure or the NCAA violations. At no time,
even at the hearing, was the university advised of the new
aggravating factors," Oklahoma wrote in the Oct. 29 rebuttal.

"This lack of notification places the university at a severe
disadvantage. The factors were not mentioned in the decision itself
even though it is now apparent they played a significant role in
the penalty."

Oklahoma, which is on probation and has lost scholarships and
recruiting time as a result of 577 excessive recruiting phone calls
by former men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff,
believes it is unfair the "aggravating factors" be applied after
the fact.

"A prior case involving a different sport, different violations
and different circumstances is not an appropriate factor for the
imposition of a vacation of records penalty," Oklahoma wrote.

As in previous appellate arguments, Oklahoma again stressed
innocent players shouldn't be punished because of rules violations
by other individuals and that "without the university's
assistance, the NCAA could not have proven any NCAA violations."

"I feel like we stated our case very well. Basically, the facts
are not in dispute. I just hope they'll give very strong weight to
the fact that we uncovered the evidence, we reported it right away,
we didn't resist it," university president David Boren told The
Associated Press in an interview Friday.

"When you compare us to some other schools like USC, where they
still haven't gotten all the facts, I think that hopefully, because
we took the lead, we did the right thing, we did it so quickly, I
hope it will cause them [to grant the appeal]. The main issue for
me was not punishing all the players that worked so hard, not
punishing the innocent players."

Oklahoma also claims that the NCAA's penalties aren't consistent
with cases involving other schools and the NCAA made several
procedural errors in the case, including holding the university
responsible for a "failure to monitor" when its arguments only
claim the violations "may" have been detected by monitoring
procedures.

In addition to kicking Bomar and Quinn off the team, the Sooners
have accepted other penalties, including two additional years of
probation and reductions in scholarships and recruiting time.

"It seems inappropriate and excessive that student-athletes'
intentional actions warrant a records penalty against all other
innocent student-athletes, and a head coach who took admirable
actions," Oklahoma wrote in its rebuttal.

Boren said he does not know a timeframe for a ruling on the
appeal, which will be handled in writing by a separate infractions
committee.