One internal sanity check for any "dirtiest programs" list that relies on NCAA infractions, and the Association's appraisal of their severity, is that Alabama needs to be near the top of the list or something is amiss. The blogger in me is happy to report that I have not failed on that score. The alumnus in me, on the other hand, is disappointed that the facts are what they are, and I'm not about to pretend that I'm not.
The infractions cases at issue here involve impermissible loans, an athlete prematurely signing with an agent, and large cash payments from Alabama boosters to prospective athletes and high school coaches. The aftermath involved the federal prosecution of one of the boosters and a civil suit that had Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer hiding out in Tennessee for SEC Media Days to avoid a subpoena. All very exciting stuff.
On January 1, 1993 LA Daily News writer Michael Ventre wrote of the Sugar Bowl match-up in between Alabama and Miami in a tone similar to what we heard this past year with regards to OSU and Florida. He wrote:
On January 2nd, Alabama thumped the Hurricanes, posting a decisive 34-13 win. The next day cornerback Antiono Langham signed a contract with sports agent Darryl Dennis on the back of what is, quite possibly, the most consequential cocktail napkin in college football history. Langham later signed and submitted the paperwork to enter the 1993 NFL draft, which Coach Gene Stallings had "taken care of" without notifying the SEC or the NCAA. Regardless, Langham's eligibility disappeared when he signed with the agent. Langham when on to play for the Tide in the 1993-1994 season and that, along with some unsecured loans to a student athlete, added up to some pretty significant penalties.
Interestingly, the NCAA enforcement staff and Alabama submitted their summary disposition report to the Committee on Infractions. The CoI was not satisfied with the facts as they were agreed to by Alabama and the NCAA, and they demanded more information. The Committee subsequently added a lack of institutional control charge that the Tide and NCAA enforcement staff had chosen not to include. The Committee then handed down a sentence that included forfeiting all of the wins or ties in which Langham had played during the 1993-94 season, two years of probation, a one year bowl ban, and some pretty serious scholarship reductions.
The Logan Young/Lynn Lang/Ronnie Cottrell/Tennesee debacle is long and complicated and I've written and erased as horrible no fewer than three summaries of the events. I have come to the conclusion that I cannot possibly due justice to the drama in this short space. Instead I direct you to The Crimson Hide, a fairly even-handed look at the whole thing, if you want lots of details. The basic gist is this:
Lynn Lang was a high school football coach who shopped Albert Means, a young stud lineman, around to various schools boosters. Logan Young, a long time Alabama booster took the bait and allegedly offered $150,000 if Lang would steer Means to Tuscaloosa. I say allegedly because there were some rumors which circulated after his death which suggested that the widely accepted story was not exactly true. Additionally, a large number of Tennesse coaches, alums, and boosters served as witnesses (both secret and otherwise) against Alabama.
In addition to the Albert Means fiasco was the payment of nearly $20,000 to recruit Kenny Smith from 1995-1997. It was the inclusion of those penalties which cemented the "repeat violator" status for Alabama, as those incidents came hot on the heels of the 1995 punishments. Had it not been for those, Alabama would've had a strong argument that they were not, in fact, repeat violators under the definition laid out in the bylaws.
Helping to somewhat mitigate the penalties of this second violation was the determination by the committee that "the evidence presented by the enforcement staff cited [boosters] as primarily culpable for the violations, not members of the university's current or prior staffs."
Gene Stallings brought a national championship to Alabama, but the cost of his tenure to the Tide has been high. Much of Alabama's troubles over the last six or seven years can be attributable, at least indirectly, to the sanctions incurred under Stallings' watch. Mike DuBose, for all of his personal failings, was probably powerless to stop the Means scandal from going on.
For Logan Young's part in all of this, he was convicted by the feds on several charges relating to his involvement in the Albert Means scandal.
The Tide, for those violations, earned five years of probation, lost almost two-dozen scholarships, and were excluded from post-season play for two years.
- Lack of institutional control: '95 (10 points)
- Probation: 7 years total (14 points)
- Post-season ban: 3 years total (9 points)
- Initial scholarships: 34 total (17 points)
- Scholarship cap reduction: 8 total (2 points)
- Total: 52.00 points (1995: 25.50; 2002: 26.50)