Arkansas sanctions upheld; track titles in doubt

Updated: September 23, 2008, 6:51 PM ET
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The NCAA upheld sanctions against Arkansas' track and field program, although the school still hopes to keep two national titles in question.

Arkansas said Tuesday it will ask an NCAA committee handling track and field scoring to clarify how many points the Razorbacks must vacate from the 2004 and 2005 men's outdoor national championships. The Razorbacks won the title both years.

Arkansas was penalized for violations involving sprint star Tyson Gay and a former assistant coach. The NCAA handed down its decision last October, taking away the two national titles and giving the school three years' probation.

The school appealed, calling the penalties excessive. On Tuesday, the NCAA said it had denied Arkansas' attempt to change the start date of its probationary period -- and that meet results from when Gay competed should still be vacated.

"Although we differ in our view in the appropriateness of the penalties and the application of the probation period, we respect the appeals process," Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long said.

At least one matter is unresolved.

In its appeal, the school argued that deducting Gay's individual points might not necessarily cost Arkansas its championships from 2004 and 2005. The Razorbacks won the outdoor title by 16.5 points in 2004 and 11 points in 2005. The school contended 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 it should have to subtract 10 points or 2.5 when vacating Gay's contribution.

Arkansas said Tuesday it was told to consult another NCAA committee for clarification on that issue.

"As noted by the appeals committee, I believe it is important to seek clarification of the proper method for calculating the points that must be vacated," said John McDonnell, the longtime Arkansas coach who recently retired. "This determination will have an important impact on the ultimate outcome of the sanctions imposed against the university."

Arkansas has won 40 national championships in track and field and cross country, not including the two in question.

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.

Gay, who won the world championship last year at 100 and 200 meters, 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.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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