Our View: NCAA sanctions excessive

Our View

In short: The NCAA’s ruling that Alabama will vacate wins in football, track and men’s tennis is excessive and inconsistent.

Alabama athletes stopped abusing their textbook scholarships in 2007. The closing of this loophole did not seem to deter the recruiting classes from 2008 and 2009, including a Heisman Trophy winner.

Head coach Nick Saban’s first season with the Tide ended with seven wins and six losses. Five of those wins are now vacated. Two remain on the books because players who intentionally abused textbook scholarships were suspended. One of those wins was a 41-17 romp over then-22nd ranked Tennessee. Clearly, the football team did not suffer much without its textbook transgressors. Regardless, that winning season’s record now sits at 2-6. No losses, despite the involvement of NCAA rule violators, were vacated.

The University does not deny that players received illegal benefits. Students who exploited the system did so both intentionally and unintentionally, and only wins in which intentional violators participated were vacated.

The problem, however, was not that the University and its athletic department violated NCAA rules. It’s that players did so. They were not told to. UA officials are not accused of providing this loophole to players as an incentive to get talented athletes to play for Alabama. This did not provide a competitive advantage. This was not the cause of a ten-win season. It was something that happened behind the backs of coaches and officials, perpetrated by a few – 22 – intentional violators and a larger number of unintentional violators who did not know they were breaking the rules.

The cost was about $40,000. The fine imposed by the NCAA was $43,900. The University never contested this.

The NCAA also put the University on three years’ probation. The University never contested this. Neglect should be corrected by making sure it never happens again.

In addition, the NCAA decided to make an example of the Tide. Simply making sure this kind of thing wouldn’t happen again was not good enough. Now 21 wins are gone from a program that voluntarily cooperated in the NCAA’s investigation. If cooperation is rewarded with leniency like that, it would be hardly surprising to find schools in similar situations choose to keep their violations under wraps and dodge investigation efforts.

Honestly, an undefeated season and a national championship without textbook violations looks better than an illegal 6-6 record anyway.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.