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Alabama to appeal NCAA sanctions

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama plans to
appeal a ruling by the NCAA Committee on Infractions that forced
the football program to vacate 21 wins.

University President Robert Witt, who announced the decision on
Wednesday, said the penalties were excessive.

Alabama's football program and 15 other sports were placed on
three years probation after 201 athletes were found to have used
their scholarships to get free textbooks or other materials they
weren't entitled to, including 22 who obtained more than $100 in
supplies for other students. The NCAA labeled those 22
"intentional wrongdoers."

"We appreciate that the committee recognized the isolated
nature of this violation as well as UA's immediate and aggressive
actions to correct the situation as soon as we discovered the
problem," Witt said in a statement. "However, we are disappointed
with the excessiveness of the sanctions in view of the facts of
this case and the penalties in other textbook infractions cases.

"There is no evidence or allegations of other NCAA violations;
no coaches or administrators were involved; no players obtained
books and sold them for cash, and all the books were returned or
charged to the student's account as required by the UA textbook
policy in effect at that time."

The football program sustained the biggest blow from the
sanctions. The team had to vacate 21 wins from 2005, 2006 and 2007
involving any of seven players who were involved in the violations,
including the 2006 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech.

The university has until June 26 to file the appeal to the
Infractions Appeals Committee. The NCAA cited Alabama for failure
to monitor in imposing the penalties.

"The University of Alabama remains committed to doing things
the right way, and we will continue to work with the NCAA and the
SEC as we focus on strict compliance with all NCAA regulations,"
Witt said.

Grounds for a successful appeal of vacated wins include that the
Infractions Committee demonstrated "abuse of discretion" in its
ruling, that the committee's decision was contrary to evidence,
that no infraction was committed or that the committee made a
procedural error.