NCAA violations challenge University

While the Rattler football team was facing its most pivotal match-up of the season to date last Saturday, University representatives were facing a far more daunting opponent–the NCAA infractions committee.

A group including Interim President Castell V. Bryant, athletics director E. Newton Jackson, a representative of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Michael Buckner-the independent auditor who helped the University self-report hundreds of violations to the NCAA-spoke with the committee all day in Colorado Springs, Colo.

At the meeting, the NCAA determined whether the Rattlers’ self-imposed reduction of 28 scholarships and a one-year ban from postseason consideration in men’s basketball for the 2005-06 year were sufficient penalties for more than 200 rules infractions.

The meeting ended with no final decisions on any additional sanctions to possibly be levied b y the NCAA against FAMU.

At the Oct. 6 Board of Trustees meeting, Buckner expressed confidence in the committee’s acceptance of the University’s proactive approach to dealing with the issue. Similar tactics have been taken in the past by schools expecting punishment for the NCAA.

“They could impose a four-year, five-year or an indefinite probation,” Buckner said. “We’re confident the committee will see an additional probationary period is not warranted.”

The University stated Monday that it will not issue further comments on the matter until the NCAA releases its final decision. A decision is expected in the next five to seven weeks.

An official in the President’s office, speaking on anonymity, said the University is lacking a comment in the chance of leniency from the NCAA. The official compared the University’s situation to a trial in which the jury is in deliberation.

Infractions alleged by the NCAA include, a violation of nearly 230 eligibility requirements, primarily involving the football team.

Members of the football coaching staff violated recruiting and practice rules in the fall of 2004. Also the NCAA claimed the University lacked institutional control from the 1998-99 through 2004-2005 academic years.

At the meeting, former Rattler football coach Billy Joe was officially cleared of any wrongdoing. Joe, along with two of his assistants who were fired in June amid allegations of major rules infractions.

No one from the 2004 football coaching staff currently works for the university in an athletic capacity, after five assistants abruptly resigned in February.

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