June 26, 2002
BERKELEY - The University of California will appeal today's National Collegiate Athletic Association ruling on past rule violations in the school's football program, university Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl announced this morning.
In publicly reprimanding the university for a 1999 academic fraud case and other rule infractions involving the Cal football program during the past five years, the NCAA imposed a one-year postseason ban (2002) and placed the school on five years probation. In addition, the football program was penalized further by the loss of nine grant-in-aid scholarships over the next five seasons (2002-06).
"We take violations of NCAA rules very seriously at Cal. In the case of academic fraud, there is no university that takes this issue more seriously. For this isolated incident of academic impropriety we accepted without challenge scholarship loss and probation from the Pac-10 -- indeed we self-imposed those sanctions. However, in the case of the additional infractions, the NCAA-imposed penalties appear unduly excessive and that is why we have decided to appeal," said Chancellor Berdahl.
In regards to the academic case, the NCAA's findings were similar to those issued by the Pacific-10 Conference last June. California's football program has already fulfilled its Pac-10 penalty of losing four scholarships, as the Golden Bears played last season with only 81 scholarship players. This new NCAA ruling, if upheld, means Cal would operate with 83 football players on grant-in-aid awards during the next four years and would field 84 scholarship players in 2006, before returning to the NCAA limit of 85 scholarships in 2007.
"From the beginning of our tenure here, we took this matter very seriously," said Stephen C. Gladstone, who assumed his current athletic director duties last June. "The university and the Pac-10 office have been very proactive in the process. While we anticipated that there would be added sanctions by the NCAA, we certainly are surprised by the severity of this penalty.
"Fortunately, we can say that all corrective actions already have been taken internally. With a completely new management team in place-from the athletic director and his executive staff to a head football coach-we also have installed new procedures that will safeguard from this ever happening again."
Specifically, Cal's 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.
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.
"I expected we would receive some additional penalty from the NCAA, although it is unfortunate that a new administration and coaching staff must bear the burden," said California head football coach Jeff Tedford, who was hired by the school in December. "Obviously, we would like to have a full complement of scholarships and no bowl restrictions this year. But I don't expect this ruling to be an impediment for our football program reaching its ultimate goals."
"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.