Legal fees revealed for NCAA probe

Updated: March 24, 2010, 6:19 PM ET
Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State's outside legal costs while unsuccessfully challenging part of an NCAA penalty that took away a dozen of former coach Bobby Bowden's victories totaled more than $172,000.

The university paid the Gray Robinson law firm of Tallahassee for representing it in appealing part of the NCAA penalty and to defend a public records suit brought by media organizations.

The university spent $70,000 of boosters' money to appeal the penalties and more than $102,000 in tax dollars to unsuccessfully fight the public records requests. The school provided its legal costs Wednesday.

The public records suit by The Associated Press and two dozen other media companies accused the NCAA and Florida State of violating the state's open records laws by denying public access to the documents on the school's appeal. Florida State argued that it was caught in the middle of the dispute.

A judge, however, ruled in August that the documents were public record.

Bowden, who retired after 34 years following Florida State's Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia, lost 12 of his 389 career wins and the school also vacated a national track and field title as a result of an academic cheating scandal involving 61 athletes.

The NCAA stripped the school of wins in 10 sports.

In its appeal, Florida State called the sanctions "excessive" and claimed the NCAA did not appropriately weigh its cooperation during the investigation. The school had already agreed to four years of probation and scholarship reductions.

The university's former president, T.K. Wetherell, said the part of an NCAA punishment to strip it of victories was "excessive and inappropriate" and that it was unfair to roughly 500 athletes and 52 coaches who had nothing to do with the cheating.

Despite the legal challenge, Florida State was stripped of the victories.

The NCAA said the cheating took place on an online test in a music history course from the fall of 2006 through summer 2007 and that some athletes received improper help from staffers who provided them with answers to the exam and typed papers for them.

The NCAA called Florida State's staff involvement in the cheating "especially egregious because of their positions as individuals charged specifically with maintaining academic integrity within the athletics program."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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