Alabama athletic program penalized for textbook violations

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WAFF) - An NCAA committee on infractions penalized 16 sports programs at the University of Alabama Thursday for major rules violations.

The penalties recommended include three years probation, vacation of all wins in which any of the seven football student-athletes identified by the university as "intentional wrongdoers" competed while ineligible during the 2005-06 through 2007-08 academic years, as well as 15 other student athletes in other sports, and a $43,900 fine.

The sports affected include football, baseball, men's and women's basketball, and 12 other sports programs located at the university's Tuscaloosa campus.

The violations listed by the NCAA in a press release included "a failure to monitor by the university and impermissible benefits obtained by 201 student-athletes through misuse of the university's textbook distribution program." The unauthorized activities resulted in inpermissable benefits that totaled about $40,000.

NCAA investigators also said it was found that $21,950 of this value was obtained by student-athletes who were aware they were receiving impermissible benefits

The University of Alabama has been a repeat violator of NCAA rules, having appeared before the committee in 2002 for violations in its football program. Before that, the university was also a repeat violator due to a 1999 case involving its men's basketball program.

The report released by the investigating committee states: "Although the committee commends the institution for self-discovering, investigating and reporting the textbook violations, it remains troubled, nonetheless, by the scope of the violations in this instance and by the institution's recent history of infractions cases."

Of the 201 student-athletes that received impermissible benefits, 22 were identified by the university as "intentional wrongdoers," as they were aware they received improper benefits. Fourteen of those student-athletes were members of the school's track and field teams. The committee said the violating student-athletes were using the textbook distribution program to acquire textbooks and other materials for friends and girlfriends.

These student-athletes - 14 of whom were members of the men's and women's track and field programs - exploited the university's textbook distribution system for scholarship student-athletes to acquire textbooks and materials of value greater than $100 for girlfriends, friends and other student-athletes.

The release issued by the committee said the value of the impermissible benefits obtained by these intentional wrongdoers ranged from a low of $32.30 by a women's track student-athlete to a high of $3,947.19 by a football student-athlete. The committee noted that the four highest amounts, ranging from $2,714.62 to $3,947.19, were obtained by football student-athletes.

The second type of infraction involved student-athletes who unintentionally received the impermissible use of non-required textbooks and materials. Among the student-athletes who unintentionally violated NCAA rules, about 125 received benefits that totaled less than $100 each.

Finally, the committee notes that the university was unable to produce any records prior to the 2005 fall semester. As a result, the university could not ascertain whether violations of this nature may have occurred prior to the fall of 2005. Therefore, the scope of the case was limited to violations that occurred after that date.

There will be more developments in this story, including reaction to the penalties by the University of Alabama athletic program. Stay tuned to WAFF 48 Sports and for more information as it becomes available.

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