NCAA responds to FSU president

Updated: March 21, 2009, 3:57 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The NCAA turned down Florida State's proposal that a "blue-ribbon committee" be formed to review the policy of vacating wins as a form of punishment, and that the policy be suspended from use while it is under review, according to a report in the Orlando Sentinel.

T.K. Wetherell, president of Florida State -- which on March 6 learned of its penalties resulting from an investigation into an academic cheating scandal -- wrote the NCAA a letter, dated March 17, in which he made the proposal, according to the Sentinel.

But NCAA president Myles Brand, in his response dated March 20 and reported by the Sentinel, said the Committee on Infractions already was reexamining its "entire penalty structure," and that any recommendations for changes would be sent to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors for consideration.

In the meantime, Brand wrote, "It would be arbitrary to suspend only the vacation-of-wins penalty and impractical to suspend them all."

The Florida State football team and nine other programs -- baseball, men's track and field, women's track and field, men's swimming, women's swimming, men's basketball, women's basketball, softball and men's golf -- were ordered to serve four years of probation and face a reduction in scholarships as punishment for the academic cheating fraud.

The cheating occurred mainly through online testing for a single music history course in fall 2006 and the spring and summer semesters of 2007. It included staffers helping students on the test and in one case, asking one athlete to take it for another.

As a result, Florida State also is being ordered to vacate any victories in which any of the 61 athletes involved in the academic cheating may have participated.

The person most affected by that penalty might have to be football coach Bobby Bowden, who has 382 career wins -- one fewer than Penn State's Joe Paterno, the all-time major college leader. Fourteen of the team's victories would be affected by the penalty, and if those victories are subtracted from Bowden's official total, it could ruin his chances of retiring as the NCAA leader.

"The coaches had no involvement," Wetherell said Tuesday. "To hold them responsible in this case is simply wrong."

The Sentinel also reported that in Brand's March 20 letter, Brand acknowledged receiving official word that Florida State intended to appeal the vacation-of-wins penalty levied by the NCAA.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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