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Alabama textbook probe includes all athletes

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama is
investigating the distribution of textbooks to athletes on
scholarship in all sports after five football players were
suspended for violating rules covering free books for course work.

The internal probe, announced in a news release Monday, is to
determine if any scholarship athletes violated NCAA rules by
obtaining more textbooks than they were allotted for their own
classes.

The Alabama case surfaced just days after the NCAA put Ball
State on probation for two years because of misuse by athletes in
several sports of a textbook loan program.

Alabama starting offensive linemen Antoine Caldwell and Marlon
Davis, tailback Glen Coffee and defensive backs Marquis Johnson and
Chris Rogers were suspended for Alabama's 41-17 victory over
Tennessee on Saturday. University officials said the suspensions
involved impermissible receipt of textbooks.

Head coach Nick Saban said Monday the players used "poor
judgment" but that the university's textbook distribution system
for athletes also failed the players.

"No one at the university wants me to say it, but it's true,"
Saban said in a speech to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club.

Athletic department officials said the length of the suspensions
for the five football players has not been determined. All five
players will be permitted to practice with the football team, which
is off this week and resumes practice next Tuesday for the Nov. 3 game
when No. 22 Alabama hosts No. 3 LSU.

"We had some guys use poor judgment in how they did it," Saban
said. "Now, the NCAA might see it as an extra benefit. We saw it,
we reported it. But the system failed the players, too. If we call
a bad play and it doesn't work, we're responsible."

None of the players have been made available for comment.

There is no timetable for completion of the investigation, which
could last throughout the week, said Doug Walker, the university's
media relations director.

In the Ball State case, the NCAA said last week the infractions
involved 89 athletes in 10 sports from the spring semester of 2003
to the end of the 2004-05 school year. The athletes obtained
$26,944 in books for classes in which they weren't enrolled and, in
some cases, got more than one copy of a book, which they gave to
others, the NCAA said.