Florida A&M gets probation but no additional penalties

Updated: February 2, 2006, 2:04 AM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The NCAA put Florida A&M on probation for four years Wednesday but did not add to penalties, including the loss of scholarships and championships, already imposed by the school and by the Mid-East Athletic Conference.

The university earlier admitted 196 rule violations in all 15 men's and women's sports spanning seven years from 1998-99 to 2004-05.

"The institution has acknowledged that its compliance program was understaffed and inadequately funded, which resulted in an inexperienced and inadequately trained compliance staff," said Jo Potuto, vice chairwoman of the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions.

Potuto, also a University of Nebraska law professor, said FAMU exhibited lack of institutional control.

The committee, however, found no evidence former football coach Billy Joe, who was fired in June, had committed any infractions and that he was free to seek other employment in the college ranks, Potuto said.

She praised FAMU's interim president, Castell Bryant, for efforts to correct the school's problems, but said they aren't enough to avoid probation.

"Numerous bylaws were misinterpreted, large numbers of student-athletes were certified improperly and many student-athletes competed while ineligible," she said.

The school will be subject to continuing oversight by the NCAA during the probationary period and must submit reports on the progress of corrective actions.

FAMU's self-imposed sanctions include three years on probation, the loss of four partial and two full scholarships in football and one each in baseball, women's basketball and women's track in each of the next three academic years.

The school also is cutting four official visits in football over that span.

The MEAC has stripped Florida A&M of 11 conference titles including two in football, but allowed the Rattlers to return to the conference after an abortive attempt to jump from Division I-AA to Division I-A in football.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press