Alabama football head coach Nick Saban, Dec. 29, 2008 (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated: Thursday, 11 Jun 2009, 3:36 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 11 Jun 2009, 3:36 PM EDT
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - The NCAA placed Alabama's football program and 15 other of the school's athletic teams on three years probation for major violations due to misuse of free textbooks.
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions said Thursday the football team must forfeit an unspecified number of wins in which any of seven players took part during 2005-2007. The university identified the seven as "intentional wrongdoers."
The NCAA said that 201 student-athletes in the 16 sports, including men's basketball, obtained "impermissible benefits" by using their scholarships to obtain free textbooks for other students. It also found the university guilty of "failure to monitor."
The university was ordered to pay a $43,900 fine, close to the total value of the books.
Alabama identified 22 of the student-athletes as "intentional wrongdoers" who knew they were receiving improper benefits. Fifteen were members of the women's track and field programs who acquired textbooks and materials of value greater than $100 for girlfriends, friends and other student-athletes. The four biggest offenders in dollar value were football players, who received from $2,714 to $3,947 in improper benefits.
The other sports hit with probation were softball, baseball, gymnastics, women's basketball, soccer, volleyball and both the men's and women's teams in golf, swimming, tennis and track and field.
The university is a repeat violator since the program was placed on five years probation in Feb. 2002, when it was also under the five-year window for basketball violations.
"Although the committee commends the institution for self-discovering, investigating and reporting the textbook violations, it remains troubled, nonetheless, by the scope of the violations in this instance and by the institution's recent history of infractions cases," the NCAA said.
The NCAA said some 125 student athletes received benefits totaling less than $100 each.
The university was cited for not adequately monitoring the process or having a system for detecting the violations on a timely basis. The NCAA said the athletes weren't restricted by purchase limits or required to show photo identification.
The university could not produce records before the 2005 fall semester, so it's unclear if similar violations occurred earlier.
Nick Saban replaced Mike Shula as coach after the 2006 football season and suspended five players -- Antoine Caldwell, Glen Coffee, Marquis Johnson, Chris Rogers and Marlon Davis -- for four games when the university uncovered the violations in 2007. The Tide was 5-2 at that point and its only wins in the next six games came against Tennessee and Colorado in the Independence Bowl.
The sanctions come at a time when Alabama fans were celebrating the program's return to national prominence. Saban led the Tide to a 12-0 regular-season record and a No. 1 ranking last season, before the team lost to Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game and to Utah in the Sugar Bowl.
The university uncovered the violations after an Alabama Supply Store employee realized that an athlete had more than $1,600 in charges for the fall semester of 2007 and alerted university officials. Athletes get free textbooks with their scholarship, but some were accused of getting additional textbooks for other students.
Alabama has changed some of its procedures, including requiring compliance officials to be present when student-athletes pick up their books.
The university has said none of the textbooks or materials were used for profit or to get items not related to academics, and that the athletes involved who still have eligibility remaining have had to pay restitution.