Crimson Tide Hit by Bowl Ban

LOS ANGELES -- Alabama, the third-winningest program in major college football history, was placed on three years' probation and severely penalized after the NCAA found the school guilty of unethical conduct and "a distressing failure of institutional control.''

The sanctions, made public Wednesday, also require Alabama to reduce its football scholarships from the maximum 85 to 81 for the next two seasons, reduce its freshmen and transfer player scholarships by 22 during the next two seasons, forfeit eight victories and a tie from the 1993 season and forfeit any chance to appear in post-season play this year.

In addition, the National Collegiate Athletics Association Committee on Infractions ordered four school officials, including coach Gene Stallings and athletic director Cecil "Hootie'' Ingram, to attend a regional rules compliance seminar during each of the next three years.

"I was, to put it a simple way, somewhat stunned by the [NCAA] report,'' Ingram said on Wednesday.

Alabama President Roger Sayers, calling the penalties "far beyond what [the] facts warrant,'' said the school will request a review by the U.S. NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee, which is separate from the committee that imposed the sanctions. Alabama, whose football program has never been subjected to NCAA probation, has 14 days to submit such an appeal.

"This issue isn't over yet,'' Sayers said. "These penalties are not final. We think we have a strong case to make to the committee, and we will make it.''

Alabama doesn't dispute the core of the initial investigation: allegations that Antonio Langham, then a Crimson Tide junior defensive back, signed with an agent after the team's national championship win over Miami in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1993, and that former running back Gene Jelks received six loans totalling $24,400 based partly on his future earnings in the NFL. In fact, school officials and the NCAA enforcement staff submitted a joint acknowledgment that the violations occurred.

But the Committee on Infractions wasn't satisfied with that report and ordered hearings. After conducting the hearings, the committee decided that Ingram, Stallings, faculty representative Dr. Thomas Jones and then compliance director Gary White had failed to investigate Langham's situation properly.

Langham played in 11 regular-season games in 1993 before he was ruled ineligible for the Southeastern Conference championship game, which Alabama lost to Florida, and the Gator Bowl, in which the Crimson Tide defeated North Carolina. Under NCAA rules, he should have been ineligible for the entire season. Alabama's record thus fell from 9-3-1 to 1-12.

In its release, the committee said Jones provided "false and misleading'' information to the NCAA eligibility staff, which constituted unethical conduct. It also criticized the school for its failure to uncover Jelks' loans.

If the sanctions stand, Alabama, which is expected to be ranked in the pre-season top 25, would lose its share of the SEC bowl revenue and the SEC championship game revenue. Last year, SEC teams generated $5 million from bowls and $4.3 million from the championship game, with each team receiving about $775,000.