July 11, 2007

NCAA announces sanctions against Oklahoma

The NCAA Committee on Infractions on Wednesday announced further sanctions against the University of Oklahoma including the loss of two scholarships for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 academic years stemming from a 2006 scandal in which three football players were paid for work they did not perform at a Norman car dealership.

That limits Oklahoma to 83 total football scholarships for those two years.

Oklahoma must also vacate the eight victories it gained in the 2005 season and cannot recognize those wins in record books, media guides or in anything else chronicling OU's football history.

Miami Athletic Director Paul Dee, the chairman of the committee on infractions, said OU was cited for a "failure to monitor" rather than a lack of institutional control, which might have wrought more severe consequences.

"A lack of institutional control was neither charged by the enforcement division of the NCAA nor found by the committee," Dee said. "What was found by the committee was a failure to monitor, which is a lesser charge."

However, University of Oklahoma President David Boren indicated that the university would appeal part of the committee's decision.

"In light of all the circumstances surrounding this case and as a matter of principle, the university has decided to appeal two elements of this decision the penalty of erasing the 2005 season record and the finding of failure to monitor," he said in a statement released by the Oklahoma Sports Information Department. "Any mistakes made by the athletic department compliance staff while monitoring would not have prevented the intentional wrongdoing by the student athletes and the employer involved. The university developed the evidence of wrongdoing by the players and employer and took immediate action.

"Above all, we do not believe that erasing the 2005 season from the record books is fair to the over 100 student athletes and coaches who played by the rules and worked their hearts out for a successful season that year."

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops pointed out that the sanctions involving the 2005 team will not influence this year's team.

"Our current team is focused on the upcoming season," Stoops said in a release from the Oklahoma Sports Information Department. "The university is dealing with a matter that relates to the 2005 season. This group of players and those that will join our program later have no reason to be concerned about our goals or the direction of our program. Those things remain unchanged. We remain a program that is concentrated on winning championships and my expectation is that we will compete on that level for many years."

The scandal centered around former quarterback Rhett Bomar, guard J.D. Quinn and walk-on receiver Jermaine Hardison, who received approximately $17,000 in unearned wages from Big Red Sports and Imports.

Upon discovering those violations in August 2006, Oklahoma imposed its own penalties, including the dismissal of Bomar and Quinn and the loss of their scholarships. The university also disassociated itself with Big Red Sports' former general manager Brad McRae, prohibited OU athletes from working at Big Red Sports through the 2008-2009 academic year and reduced by one the number of football coaches allowed to recruit off campus.

Dee said that Oklahoma's decision to immediately suspend Bomar and Quinn and impose sanctions upon itself was taken into account by the committee.

"I think the dismissal of the two student athletes from the football team was very influential on the committee," Dee said. "The University football coach (Bob Stoops), Athletic Director (Joe Castiglione) and President (David Boren) should be commended."

The other sanctions the NCAA Infractions committee imposed included a public reprimand and censure, extending OU's self-imposed probation by two years until May 23, 2010, the loss of all victories and individual, team and coaching records from the 2005 season.

The games are not forfeited because the teams that OU defeated will not be granted an additional victory.

Stoops is also required to drop the eight victories from 2005 from his personal coaching record. His official record is now 78-19 in eight seasons at Oklahoma.

However, the Sooners are not required to return any revenue gained from their 17-14 victory over Oregon in the 2005 Holiday Bowl.

"Bowl money does not have to be given back because the NCAA does not regulate college football bowl games that are not an NCAA championship," Dee said.

In a hearing with the Committee on Infractions last April, Oklahoma officials argued their compliance department met all standards. They said the university did not fail to monitor the employment of its student-athletes; it was victimized by student-athletes determined to cheat.

However, the committee ruled the university made several mistakes and stated that because the dealership was apparently the largest employer of OU student-athletes, the university should have made more extensive efforts to monitor the student-athletes' employment.

Dee indicated that Oklahoma could be subject to the NCAA's "death penalty" if more violations occur during its probation period.

"If that would be the case that issue would be considered," Dee said. "That has not occurred in a while, but it would be available."

Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com.



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