The NCAA defended its recent rulings in violations cases involving Ohio State and Auburn, saying it does not play favorites or make decisions based on financial considerations.
The NCAA posted a statement on its website yesterday responding to critics. It says “the notion that the NCAA is selective with its eligibility decisions and rules enforcement is another myth with no basis in fact.
“Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd, because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the NCAA.’’
Last week, the NCAA suspended five Ohio State players for five games next season for selling their championship rings, trophies, and other memorabilia items, but is allowing them to play in the upcoming Sugar Bowl.
Before the NCAA handed down its penalties, Ohio State officials informed Sugar Bowl organizers that the school was lobbying for the players to be eligible for the Jan. 4 game.
Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan told The Columbus Dispatch that he encouraged Ohio State officials to push for the players to be allowed to play against Arkansas.
“I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year’s game, we would greatly appreciate it,’’ Hoolahan was quoted as saying in yesterday’s editions of the newspaper. “That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I’m extremely excited about it, that the Buckeyes are coming in at full strength and with no dilution.’’
Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long told the AP he had no problem with Hoolahan looking out for the Sugar Bowl.
“He’s the leader of the Sugar Bowl and probably needs to do that,’’ Long said. “I also don’t think that his lobbying, so to speak, would carry a whole lot of weight with the NCAA when they make their decisions. I don’t mean that with any disrespect to Paul Hoolahan, but I would be surprised if the NCAA took that into consideration when making their decision.’’
Last month, the NCAA did not punish Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, even though it ruled his father had solicited money from Mississippi State while that school was recruiting his son.
The Heisman Trophy winner was allowed to continue playing because there was no evidence that he or Auburn knew about Cecil Newton’s attempts to get Mississippi State to pay $180,000 for his son’s commitment out of junior college.
AD expects Paterno back Penn State athletic director Tim Curley plans to meet with Joe Paterno next month and expects the 84-year-old coach to return for the 2011 season. Curley, speaking at an Outback Bowl luncheon in Tampa, said no date has been set for the meeting. Paterno insisted Tuesday he has no plans to stop coaching after this week’s game against Florida . . . Steve Spurrier’s first game against former longtime rival Florida State in almost a decade has sparked old memories. Spurrier, now the South Carolina coach, started humming the Florida State fight song this week as he discussed tomorrow night’s Chick-fil-A Bowl game against the Seminoles. As Florida’s coach from 1990-2001, Spurrier faced Florida State at least once a year. He once stoked an already intense rivalry by suggesting FSU was an abbreviation for “Free Shoes University.’’ Spurrier said he has always respected Florida State, even as he cringed at the thought of hearing the Seminoles’ famous fight song . . . It’s no secret Notre Dame will enjoy tremendous crowd support in the Sun Bowl against Miami. After all, an estimated 80 percent of the population in El Paso is Roman Catholic. “I think we’re going to be treated like the home team,’’ Notre Dame offensive lineman Chris Stewart said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt. It’s going to be fun.’’