Arkansas appealing NCAA sanctions for track and field violations

Updated: January 25, 2008, 8:06 PM ET
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas has appealed the stiff sanctions imposed on its track and field program last year, calling the NCAA's penalties "excessive and inappropriate."

The Razorbacks lost two national titles and received three years' probation for violations involving sprint star Tyson Gay and a former assistant coach. The NCAA handed down its decision in October.

"The imposition of the loss of individual and team standings for two years, including the loss of two national championships, is an extremely harsh penalty," the school said in its appeal, obtained Friday by The Associated Press via the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act.

"This penalty, in addition to the significant penalties self-imposed by the institution, is not commensurate with a major case composed primarily of secondary violations."

The school submitted its appeal Jan. 2, taking issue with certain portions of the NCAA's infractions report.

"The University's position is that the penalties in these sections are excessive and inappropriate," the school said.

The NCAA has until Feb. 2 to reply. After receiving the response, Arkansas will have 15 days to file a rebuttal.

Razorbacks coach John McDonnell has built one of the top college programs in any sport over more than three decades with the school. Arkansas has won 40 national titles in track and field and cross country, not counting the two that were taken away from the 2004 and 2005 men's outdoor track and field championships.

Arkansas self-reported violations committed by former assistant Lance Brauman, who was convicted in 2006 of embezzlement, theft and mail fraud. The convictions stemmed from his time at Barton County Community College in Kansas. Brauman was coaching Arkansas when he was convicted. He then resigned.

Neither the university's self-report nor the NCAA named Gay, who won the world championship last year at 100 and 200 meters. But Brauman's mail-fraud indictment identified the athlete, who transferred from Barton County to Arkansas.

The university has acknowledged that Brauman and his wife provided impermissible transportation for the athlete and helped arrange lodging for him during the summer of 2003, prior to his enrollment at Arkansas. The school also reported Brauman or his wife helped the student enroll in a correspondence course in a way that constituted improper assistance, and that Brauman asked his sister-in-law to tutor the student and helped arrange for two people to serve as proctors for tests in the correspondence course.

Arkansas said in its appeal that the self-reported violations were secondary and the recruiting benefits totaled just $376. The school also said Brauman and Gay had a pre-existing relationship and Gay signed with the school about nine months before the first violation.

"The violations were not an attempt to recruit him," the school said.

The school also said there have been no allegations of academic fraud.

"The University believes if the violations were known at the time, (the athlete) would have been reinstated with little, if any, loss of eligibility," the school said.

The school said if the NCAA penalizes Arkansas for Gay's participation in the 2004 and 2005 outdoor national championships, it should consider subtracting only Gay's points from the Razorbacks' totals -- instead of voiding Arkansas' entire performances.

Arkansas won the outdoor title by 16.5 points in 2004 and 11 points in 2005. The school argued that Gay's individual point totals for the meets could be as low as 16 points for '04 and 8.5 for '05, depending on how individual points are awarded among athletes on a relay team.

For example, Gay was on a four-man relay team in 2005 that earned Arkansas 10 points. The school questioned whether his individual point total from that race should be 10 or 2.5. If it's 10, then he earned 16 points that year. If it's 2.5, then he only earned 8.5 points for the meet -- and nullifying his total alone wouldn't hurt Arkansas as much.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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