The findings of a year-long investigation into alleged academic fraud at
Free Shoe Florida State University are in, and they’re not pretty for Seminole fans. According to the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, Florida State will be forced to vacate all seven wins that Bobby Bowden’s football program earned in 2007. That’s the result of the exposure and subsequent dismissal of a member of FSU’s academic support staff, who cheated to help some 61 athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball, softball, track and field (which won an indoor national championship), men’s and women’s golf, baseball and softball stay eligible. Oh, and swimming. Basically, if you were on a sports team at Florida State in 2007, you’re about to lose every single win you earned with your team.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL TALK has a complete breakdown of the sanctions, and they are voluminous. Losing all those wins — and the national title — aren’t the only hit the Seminoles are taking. The sanctions that were released call for the school to cut back on scholarships for the football program (five in 2009-10 and six in 2010-11), men’s basketball (12 instead of 13 through 2011) and women’s basketball (13 instead of 15 through 2011). If you thought six scholarships aren’t that big a deal, consider how many borderline players actually make a big impact in college football … and how many times FSU has missed with its biggest recruits in recent years. That could be big trouble.
Wondering how this all happened? The ORLANDO SENTINEL has an impressive timeline of the events right here, but if you want the cut and dry Cliff Notes, here you go:
- A learning specialist in the athletic academic support services department named Brenda Monk came to the realization (which was likely true in many cases) that she just wasn’t going to be able to teach the FSU athletes enough to get them to pass. Instead, she helped them cheat. How’d she do it? She had one smarter athlete take an online quiz forone of his/her dumber compatriots. Let the record show that Monk wasn’t even bright enough to do the cheating herself to cover her tracks.
- The athlete is pissed that he/she is covering up for a teammates stupidity and feels guilty, so he/she notifies authorities, who — after the report eventually reaches university president T.K. Weatherell — eventually conduct an internal investigaion. That finds that either Monk or another learning instructor had taught students how to cheat in an online quiz for a Music of the World class. At this point, the feces starts hitting the fan.
- Weatherell tells Athletic Director Dave Hart he ain’t coming back. Shortly thereafter Monk has the decency to resign herself (yes, she was still on paid leave to that point).
- 24 FSU football players miss the team’s loss in the Music City Bowl to Kentucky because that had been helped to cheat in the Music of the World course.
- FSU places athletic department on two years’ probation and reduces scholarships in sports, though it doesn’t say which sports were affected and how many scholarships were cut (no word on how many chess grants were lost).
- FSU gets on its hands and knees and apologizes to the public, groveling to try and regain respect.
- Monk announces she will sue the school (that was inevitable, wasn’t it?).
- NCAA drills FSU with sanctions, including forfeiture of wins.
So, there’s everthing FSU did wrong in a nutshell. In fairness, the Seminoles cut a lot of the athletic derpartment’s upper-tier staff. By Feb. of last year, six upper administrators were gone or packing their bags for an early vacation, proving that Weatherell knows how to hold a righteous blood bath. Yet that still didn’t sate the NCAA. That has Weatherell plenty pissed off.
“We just don’t understand the sanction to vacate all wins in athletics contestes in which ineligible student-athletes competed because we did not allow anyone who we knew was ineligible to compete,” FSU president T.K. Wetherell countered in a statement. “Our position throughout the inquiry was that as soon as we knew of a problem, we didn’t play them.”
Yes, the school may have pulled the athletes once they knew they had cheated, but it took them way too long to learn what they were doing in the first place. And that hardly makes accomplishments with athletes who were eligible because they cheated under Monk’s watch any more legitimate.
(Old man fight: Advantage Paterno.)
We’re not usually the first place to agree with the NCAA, but we’re on board with the guillotine penalty here. No, it’s not the SMU version, but it is a direct shot at Bowden. And you know what? He deserves one. Now he’ll almost have to coach another full season after Joe Paterno retires/dies to have any shot at catching his record total of wins. Something about that feels right given the Florida State scandals of the 90s and early 2000s, doesn’t it?