The appeals game for one SEC school is officially afoot.
In late January, the college football world in general and Missouri specifically were stunned when it was announced that the NCAA had imposed steep sanctions on three of the university’s sports programs, including football. The sanctions stem from a former Mizzou tutor who The Association found violated “ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits rules when she completed academic work for 12 student-athletes.”
Nearly two months later, and with financial losses in the millions looming, Mizzou announced that, as expected, the university has officially appealed what it described as “overly-harsh sanctions” in a 64-page brief. Per the brief, the university maintains that, one, the penalties handed down were contrary to NCAA case precedent; two, they were not supported, or appropriate, given the nature of the violations; and three, they could have a chilling effect on future NCAA enforcement processes.
Below is a statement from athletic director Jim Sterk issued through the university:
We believe that the penalties our programs received were a clear abuse of the Committee’s discretion based upon existing NCAA bylaws. Our staff and legal team have worked tirelessly to research and develop a well-written appeal that accurately reflects our position. We look forward to having the opportunity to meet face to face with the NCAA Appeals Committee later this year, and it is our sincere hope that at the end of this process, the penalties assessed are consistent with the nature of the violations and take into account our swift response. …
“A message is sent to the membership every time the NCAA Committee on Infractions adjudicates cases. In this instance, the message is loud and clear that neither proactive self-reporting nor exemplary cooperation is of any value to the committee. I am shocked this is the message the NCAA wants to send to its membership in today’s climate. …
“As the university prepared its vigorous response to these unfair penalties, the spirits of our student-athletes have been buoyed by the widespread support of our students, alumni, university supporters and our elected officials in Jefferson City and in Washington D.C. That unified support has been most gratifying for all of us associated with this great institution. We will continue to work diligently to make this situation right for our student-athletes, coaches and fans who are impacted by these penalties as they now stand.
In addition to a one-year postseason ban for the 2019 season, the football program was hit with a five-percent reduction in scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year as well as recruiting restrictions during the same timeframe. Those include:
- A seven-week ban on unofficial visits.
- A 12.5 percent reduction in official visits.
- A seven-week ban on recruiting communications.
- A seven-week ban on all off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.
- A 12.5 percent reduction in recruiting-person or evaluation days.
Because of the appeal, Mizzou could play in a bowl game in 2019 if that process, which is expected to take up to a year if not longer, is still ongoing.