TUSCALOOSA, Ala. | The University of Alabama plans to appeal a ruling by the NCAA Committee on Infractions that forced the football program to vacate 21 wins.
University President Robert Witt, who announced the decision on Wednesday, said the penalties were excessive.
Alabama's football program and 15 other sports were placed on three years probation after 201 athletes were found to have used their scholarships to get free textbooks or other materials they weren't entitled to, including 22 who obtained more than $100 in supplies for other students. The NCAA labeled those 22 "intentional wrongdoers."
"We appreciate that the committee recognized the isolated nature of this violation as well as UA's immediate and aggressive actions to correct the situation as soon as we discovered the problem," Witt said in a statement. "However, we are disappointed with the excessiveness of the sanctions in view of the facts of this case and the penalties in other textbook infractions cases.
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"There is no evidence or allegations of other NCAA violations; no coaches or administrators were involved; no players obtained books and sold them for cash, and all the books were returned or charged to the student's account as required by the UA textbook policy in effect at that time."
The football program sustained the biggest blow from the sanctions. The team had to vacate 21 wins from 2005, 2006 and 2007 involving any of seven players who were involved in the violations, including the 2006 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech.
The university has until June 26 to file the appeal to the Infractions Appeals Committee. The NCAA cited Alabama for failure to monitor in imposing the penalties.
"The University of Alabama remains committed to doing things the right way, and we will continue to work with the NCAA and the SEC as we focus on strict compliance with all NCAA regulations," Witt said.
Grounds for a successful appeal of vacated wins include that the Infractions Committee demonstrated "abuse of discretion" in its ruling, that the committee's decision was contrary to evidence, that no infraction was committed or that the committee made a procedural error.