Sports Outside the Beltway

Alabama Vacates 21 Wins over Books Scandal

Alabama’s football program is getting spanked yet again by the NCAA,  ESPN reports.

The NCAA will reveal later Thursday that the Alabama football program must vacate victories from 2005 through 2007 that included players who improperly obtained free textbooks for other students, the Birmingham News is reporting.

Alabama could be forced to vacate as many as 21 wins under the watch of former coach Mike Shula and current coach Nick Saban, sources at the university told’s Mark Schlabach. Citing a source, the News reported the number of wins to be at least 10.

The Crimson Tide will not lose future scholarships, according to the News. The university also will be placed on probation for the second time in the past eight years and ordered to pay a fine, the newspaper reported.

The NCAA alleges the violations began at the start of the 2005 season; the university reported the violations after uncovering them during the ’07 football season, when starting linemen Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis, running back Glen Coffee and defensive backs Chris Rogers and Marquis Johnson were suspended for four games.

Under NCAA rules, the players would be ruled ineligible from when they first received the “extra benefits” and would have been ineligible until they were suspended and reinstated.

It is not clear which additional sports programs at Alabama are affected. The NCAA’s ruling will be announced in a 3 p.m. ET teleconference.

University officials aren’t permitted to comment until the NCAA releases its findings. The investigation also included athletes in other sports that the university has not disclosed.

Alabama appeared before the Committee on Infractions on Feb. 20 to answer allegations of potentially major violations involving the improper disbursement of textbooks and “failure to adequately monitor” the textbook distribution process for student-athletes.

The violations occurred during the 2005-06 school year and into the fall of 2007. That left the university subject to potentially stiffer penalties as a repeat violator because the football program was placed on probation on Feb. 1, 2002.

The new case also reopens the five-year repeat violator window.

Saban replaced Shula as coach after the 2006 football season and suspended Caldwell, Coffee, Johnson, Rogers and Davis when the university uncovered the violations. The Tide was 5-2 at that point in the 2007 season and their only wins in the next six games came against Tennessee and Colorado in the Independence Bowl.

The sanctions come at a time when Alabama fans were celebrating the program’s return to national prominence. Saban led the Tide to a 12-0 regular-season record and a No. 1 ranking last season, before the team lost to Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game and to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.

As an Alabama alumnus — I was enrolled when we won our most recent national football title in 1992 — I’m sick over this.  Just as the program recovered from the last set of sanctions, here we go again.

It sounds like Nick Saban is uninvolved and acted correctly here.  If there are sanctions beyond losing past games, though, I wouldn’t be at all surprised for him to pull a Franchione and leave for greener pastures.

As an aside, I think retroactive forfeits are silly.  You can’t change history and it only penalizes fans, not students, athletes, or others responsible.

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