Florida to NCAA: For seniors' sake, take scholarships, not bowl

September 26, 1990|By Knight-Ridder

So here's the trade -- 12 scholarships for a single bowl bid opportunity. Fewer players in the future for one immediate shot at greatness.

Would you take it? The University of Florida hopes the NCAA Committee on Infractions does. Florida President John Lombardi sent a letter to the committee's five members yesterday, making a unique informal proposal rather than the standard formal appeal, that the Gators accept severe scholarship sanctions as a substitute for the 1990 bowl ban the committee hit Florida with six days ago.

Football coach Steve Spurrier, the driving force behind the appeal, applauded Lombardi's letter: "He's fighting for this team. Certainly, we feel there's a glimmer of hope that something can be worked out."

Florida won't know for a week or two if the appeal will be accepted, but the odds aren't good. No school has won an NCAA appeal in the last five years.

Lombardi wants to allow Florida to sign only 17 scholarship players instead of the allowed 25 for the 1991-92 season, and 21 rather than 25 for 1992-93, maintaining that this punishment would put the Gators at a "significant disadvantage" by greatly extending the penalty's reach. He requested the punishment switch for the sake of Florida's 15 football seniors, saying their careers had "been dogged by the process of the investigation" and that their "final chance to play a major role in one clear season is now."

Spurrier said, "I sincerely believe that there are reasonable, decent people on that committee that may look at it and say these players at Florida were all recruited legally and are a pretty good bunch of young men. We haven't had a late-hit penalty all year, we haven't had a holding penalty, we haven't had any hot-dogging."

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