Nov. 18, 2002
Conceding that the original sanctions were excessive for the rule violations committed, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has restored nine grant-in-aid scholarships to the University of California football program in response to the school's appeal, university Athletic Director Steve Gladstone announced today.
However, the NCAA Infraction Appeals Committee did not lift the one-year postseason bowl ban or lessen the length of California's probation, which were the other penalties imposed in the June 26 ruling. Thus, the Cal football team (6-5 overall, 3-4 in Pac-10) will play its final game of the season this Saturday against Stanford at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium in the 105th renewal of the Big Game.
"While we are saddened that our student-athletes will be deprived of a possible bowl game experience, we do find some solace in the fact the NCAA recognized the merits of our appeal and have reduced our penalties," said Gladstone. "Our heart goes out to the seniors on this team, particularly, who deserved a better fate. In no way, should today's ruling diminish the great accomplishments of our 2002 team, which produced one of the greatest turnaround seasons in college football history."
Cal's past violations included a 1999 academic fraud case and other rule infractions involving the Cal football program during the past five years.
Specifically, academic improprieties occurred when a university professor independently awarded false academic credits to two former student-athletes retroactively in the spring of 1999. The two student-athletes then competed in the fall of 1999 while ineligible, having failed to properly earn the minimum number of academic credits required during the academic year for satisfactory progress to remain eligible.
In regards to the academic case, the NCAA's findings released last summer were similar to those issued by the Pacific-10 Conference in June of 2000. The university did not contest either the NCAA's or Pac-10's report. California's football program has already fulfilled its self-imposed Pac-10 penalty of losing four scholarships, as the 2001 Bears played with only 81 scholarship players. The Bears have also served nearly two years of their five-year NCAA probation, retroactive to the 2001 season which was considered a Pac-10 probationary year.
New to these original violations reported to the Pac-10 last year, Cal also informed the NCAA of 34 football student-athletes who received extra benefits while staying at hotels before competitions. The student-athletes incurred incidental expenses, ranging from 75 cents to $323.03, with 20 of the 34 players making less than $20 in charges. In addition to the 34 Cal student-athletes named in the report, four football recruits visiting the campus also incurred hotel charges. These incidental violations, which occurred during a five-year period from 1997-2001, came to light during the university's self-reported investigative findings.
Gladstone stressed that all corrective actions had already been taken internally to avoid any further such NCAA violations. As a second-year athletic director, he has hired a new head football coach and an almost completely new management team, which includes a recently appointed assistant athletic director for eligibility and compliance.
"As a whole, Cal features a group of student-athletes that can rival any college in the United States," added Gladstone. "It is truly unfortunate that the conduct of a few individual student-athletes has overshadowed that fact."
Named the No. 1 public university in America by U.S. News & World Report this year, the University of California fields nearly 1,000 student-athletes. Cal's athletic teams achieved a combined 3.04 grade-point average during this past academic year, while 148 Golden Bears earned Academic All-Conference honors.