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UCF Wins Appeal of Bowl Ban

UCF Wins Appeal, Eligible for Bowl in 2013

Central Florida continued a rare winning streak for schools in front of the Committee on Infractions. The university successfully appealed the football team’s postseason ban from its 2012 major infractions case. The reasoning was that football and basketball were too mixed up:

In reviewing the record before us, the committee agrees with UCF’s assertion that the Committee on Infractions does not adequately distinguish between the factors on which the football and basketball postseason bans are based. [Appeal Page Nos. 9-11] Specifically, as evidenced in the Committee on Infractions’ report, the rationale for the football postseason penalty is so intricately woven with factors only supportive of the basketball postseason penalty (i.e., continued employment; significant competitive advantage) as to make it impossible to determine whether these additional factors formed a significant basis for the Committee on Infractions imposition of the football postseason penalty in addition to the full range of other significant penalties placed on the UCF football program specifically, and the university overall.

Given the way the appeal decision was written, it raises a question of why the penalty was simply reversed. In the Boise State case, the rationale for BSU winning the appeal was similar: an inadequate explanation by the Committee on Infractions.

As this committee noted in the Southern California case, while the Committee on Infractions should not be strictly bound to a decision made years earlier, where the circumstances of intercollegiate athletics are shown to be qualitatively different, it does not mean that prior decisions provide no restraint on or guidance to the Committee on Infractions and this committee, or that insignificant changes in the environment in which NCAA member institutions operate can justify ignoring those prior decisions [University of Southern California Infractions Appeals Committee Report (May 26, 2012) Page No. 21]. In this case, there appears to be no qualitative distinction in the record that would warrant the extent of the departure from prior precedent that was undertaken by the Committee on Infractions in this case. Therefore, the reduction by nine of football grants-in-aid is excessive.5This committee, while recognizing the authority of the Committee on Infractions, respectfully finds that in this case the Committee on Infractions failed to consider and weigh the material factors of the precedent set in prior cases.

Therefore, the Committee on Infractions’ increase of the reduction in football grants-in-aid from three to nine imposed a penalty that was excessive such that it constituted an abuse of discretion. For that reason the Infractions Appeals Committee believes it is appropriate to remand to the Committee on Infractions for reconsideration of the appropriate penalty.

In both cases, the Infractions Appeals Committee determined that the Committee on Infractions failed to adequately distinguish and explain its rationale for imposing a penalty the appeals committee found was so excessive it constituted an abuse of discretion. But Boise State’s penalty was remanded back to the COI. UCF’s was simply eliminated.

The difference may be the ultimate outcome of the Boise State case. The Committee on Infractions left the scholarship penalty unchanged. Its rationale also did not address the Infractions Appeals Committee’s issues with the penalty. While the COI explains the factors it weighed in imposing the penalty, it only addresses one case, rather than the entire body of precedent the IAC relied on.

Perhaps the Infractions Appeals Committee did not feel confident that remanding the case to the COI would ensure that UCF’s postseason ban in football was given a critical enough eye. In the Boise State case, the appeals committee had a guide for reducing and selecting its own penalty, but chose not to. Here, without as good of a guide, the IAC decided not to give the Committee on Infractions a second bite at the apple.

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