NCAA denies appeal on vacated Notre Dame wins in academic misconduct case
Notre Dame must vacate all victories from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 football seasons
An appeal by Notre Dame against the NCAA in an academic misconduct case has been denied. As a result, the school must vacate 21 victories from the 2012-13 season -- when the Fighting Irish made a run to the 2013 BCS Championship Game -- and the ensuing 2013-14 season.
In a release, the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee stated that it "found a former Notre Dame athletic training student violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when she committed academic misconduct for two football student-athletes and provided six other football student-athletes with impermissible academic extra benefits."
In addition to the vacated wins, Notre Dame was slapped with a probation period and a show-cause order for the aforementioned student trainer. However, the vacated wins are what Notre Dame appealed and the university is none too happy with the committee's rationale.
In his own letter to Notre Dame alumni, University President Fr. John Jenkins said "we are deeply disappointed by and strongly disagree" with the appeals committee's conclusion. "Our concerns go beyond the particulars of our case and the record of two football seasons to the academic autonomy of our institutions, the integrity of college athletics and the ability of the NCAA to achieve its fundamental purpose," Jenkins added.
In short, Notre Dame took exception with the NCAA treating the training student as a "representative of the institution" instead of a part-time employee. Additionally, the university felt it was unfairly punished for enforcing its own honor code by retroactively declaring three football players ineligible in 2014 by process of grade recalculation. In each instance, Notre Dame referenced a dangerous precedent being set by the NCAA.
"The NCAA has not chosen to ignore academic autonomy; it has instead perverted it by divorcing it from its logical and necessary connection to the underlying educational purpose," Jenkins wrote, adding that Notre Dame's case stands in "striking contrast with another recent high-profile academic misconduct case" (i.e. North Carolina).
The university must vacate 21 wins in all. That's not nothing, and in fact Notre Dame's season-opening game against Michigan had implications for college football's all-time best winning percentage (the two programs were separated by .0003 percent).
But generally, vacating wins is a frivolous tactic as far as punitive measures are concerned. The games happened and the results are what they are to date. For a university president to use the language in response to the NCAA is certainly notable, if for no other reason than the fact that the universities are the NCAA.
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