As FSU fights sanctions, Bowden's shot at record hangs in balance
A syllabus for a summer 2007 section of MUH 2051 at Florida State describes the course as "an introductory survey of traditions and transformations of music in global perspective, exploring music both as a phenomenon of sound and a phenomenon of culture." Any future syllabi may need to include another key detail.
Or is it?
The NCAA decreed Friday that, among other penalties, Florida State must vacate all victories in which its teams used players who were ineligible because they cheated in the online music class described above. FSU president
If the members of the NCAA's committee on infractions explained the concept of when exactly a player is ruled ineligible to FSU officials as poorly during the investigation as vice chair
That means the 61 athletes from 10 different sports forfeited their eligibility -- at least temporarily -- the second they accepted answers from a tutor. In football, those violations could have taken place at some point during the seven-win 2006 season. Now, here's where it gets interesting. The NCAA has left it up to FSU officials to determine exactly when those violations occurred and how many of those athletes competed between the moment they cheated and the moment they were suspended in 2007.
"We just don't understand the sanction to vacate all wins in athletics contests in which ineligible student-athletes competed because we did not allow anyone who we knew was ineligible to compete," Wetherell said in a statement. "Our position throughout the inquiry was that as soon as we knew of a problem, they didn't play."
Wetherell, who hinted that the program may appeal the vacation order, is correct. The program suspended all the athletes as soon as it could prove each had cheated. That included the suspension of more than two dozen football players for the 2007 Music City Bowl with an additional three-game suspension tacked on in 2008 for players who still had eligibility remaining.
FSU athletic director
There is a recent precedent. In January, Arkansas had to vacate the 2004 and 2005 men's outdoor track and field titles after the NCAA determined sprinter
Thomas said that in formulating the penalty, committee members did not consider Bowden's chase for the record. "The committee does not get involved with whether a famous athlete or a famous coach is involved -- or if there is a record," Thomas said. "The committee adjudicates the facts." That's easy to say, but some committee members had to know that taking away Bowden's shot at the record would cause Florida State the most pain.
The committee apparently does not want to dirty its hands by determining a specific punishment. Certainly, FSU's internal investigation uncovered the dates in which the fraud was committed. Committee members would then need only look at the sports schedules from that year to determine which wins should be vacated. Instead, the committee left that to FSU's athletic department, which has a vested interest in keeping as many of those wins as possible -- especially the ones on the football field.
So what happens if FSU re-opens the files and determines that, conveniently enough, no football player who cheated took part in an FSU win before he was suspended? Thomas declined to answer that question. Unfortunately for Bowden's record, it's in FSU's best interest to answer that question as truthfully as possible if an appeal fails. Though Thomas didn't address that scenario, the NCAA's likely response would probably include one key phrase.