Director of Athletics Mal Moore
announced that the NCAA committee on infractions has concluded its
investigation and will not increase or otherwise affect the penalties
imposed on the institution in February 2002.
The letter was sent to University President Robert E. Witt from NCAA
Committee on Infractions Chairman Thomas E. Yeager. The letter stated that
a “reasonable time” for the committee to re-examine the case has elapsed.
The committee had previously stated that if new information from proceedings
in Memphis became available within a reasonable time the committee had the
prerogative to re-open the case.
Alabama Head Football Coach Mike Shula was pleased. “It’s great news,” he
said. “It’s great for our current student-athletes and for our prospects and
our future. It’s another step moving forward. We can put a period on that
now. It means we are eligible for a bowl game and the SEC championship. We
can close the book on that.”
Shula said Alabama assistant coaches would be carrying a laminated copy
of the letter to show prospects, who have been told more penalties were
coming for Bama.
Credit for Alabama finally securing this clearance goes primarily to
Moore and to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Michael Slive. They made
several trips to NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis to meet with staff and
with the Infractions Committee to gain the letter. Early negotiations involved
Barry Mason, who served as interim president of The University after the
departure of Andrew Sorensen for South Carolina. After Robert E. Witt became
president, he joined the delegation.
Moore complimented members of the NCAA staff for their cooperation. He
called receipt of the letter “unbelievable relief.”
Here is the text of the letter:
“Dear President Witt:
“At the time of the University of Alabama’s hearing before the NCAA Division
I Committee on Infractions in November 2001 and again in the February 2002
infractions report, the committee noted that if new information from the
criminal proceeding in Memphis, Tennessee, became available within a
‘reasonable time,’ the committee had the prerogative to re-examine the case.
The committee has concluded that with regard to institutional
responsibility, a reasonable time has elapsed. Therefore, the committee
hereby advises the institution that any additional findings of violations
that may be found will not increase or otherwise affect the penalties
imposed on the institution in February 2002. The institution should note,
however, that it may be required to participate in the processing of
additional violations in order for the committee to consider whether the
involvement of former staff members would warrant a show-cause order.
“In making this decision, the committee took into account several factors.
First, as previously indicated, the case was adjudicated two years ago.
Second, serious findings were made and severe penalties imposed as a result
of the case. The committee believes that the penalties that were imposed and
upheld on appeal were sufficient. Additionally, both before and after the
announcement of the committee’s decision, the institution provided full
cooperation and demonstrated a continued commitment to rules compliance. Any
additional penalties against the institution would not further the goals of
diligent rules compliance by member institutions. Last, the committee
recognizes that the public’s knowledge of the fact that the committee could
re-examine the case has worked the unintended consequence of itself becoming
another penalty. One important aspect of the enforcement process is that
institutions have the chance to ‘wipe the slate clean’ once an infractions
matter is concluded and the penalties served. Closure at this time would
further that purpose of the infractions process.”
Parts of the letter would be laughable were in not for the incredible
harm done to The University, a cost of millions of dollars and Bama’s
football program put at a competitive disadvantage for years. The letter
referred to the “unintended consequence” of Alabama basically receiving the
recruiting disadvantage of schools being able to allege that more penalties
would be assessed against the Crimson Tide. This was no more “unintended”
than was the infractions committee issuing its original report of charges
only days before the 2002 Signing Day after having allowed Alabama to twist
in the wind for months.
For Yeager to say it was “unintended” serves only to
underscore the entire sham of the investigation, adjudication, and appeals
process, so obviously a fix.
Were those in charge dumb or corrupt?
for the “public knowledge,” every aspect of the case was made public on
Internet web sites connected to Tennessee football before The University
even was informed.
Yeager was a blusterer when announcing Alabama’s penalties, inaccurately
describing The University has having been “staring down the barrel of a
More recently he was more blubberer than blusterer, whining “he had
never set foot in Alabama,” as he unsuccessfully attempted to extricate
himself from the $60 million lawsuit filed by Ronnie Cottrell and Ivy
Williams against the NCAA and others, including Yeager.
However, no one should credit that lawsuit with having any effect on the
NCAA and Yeager issuing the letter. One inside source suggested that, if
anything, the lawsuit might have delayed issuance of the letter. Those with
a healthy skepticism of NCAA conscience consider the delay unconscionable
regardless of circumstances.
More plausible is that the Federal case against former Alabama booster
Logan Young in Memphis forced the NCAA to issue the letter. That was the
basis of the original determination that Alabama would, indeed, have a gun
at its head for as long as the NCAA Infractions Committee wished.
letter said “a reasonable time” had now passed, what has really changed in
favor of The University? Nothing.
However, if the NCAA has the feeling that
the government’s case against Young is not going well, it would seem to
benefit the NCAA to save a bit of face by making its announcement before
conclusion of that action in Memphis.
And, to be honest, it would have done The University almost no good to
have issued the letter any later than is already the case. That would have
been transparent, exposing the lack of good faith on the part of the NCAA.
Opposing schools have continued to tell prospects that Alabama is facing the
At least for the conclusion of this recruiting season,
prospects will know that those opposing coaches were lying to them.