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University Responds to NCAA Decision

By Mary Margaret Colliver


UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. listens to reporters' questions at today's news conference.

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"The University of Kentucky football program is already way down the road in our rebuilding efforts, and we will move forward from here. These outstanding young men and quality coaches have been through a lot of turmoil the last couple of years. From what I see, with their 3-0 start, it just made them stronger."

-- Lee T. Todd Jr.,
president,
University of Kentucky

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Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart answers a reporter's query.

To read the NCAA's news release, click here, then click on the link titled "9/17/2002 - NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee Upholds Penalties Against University of Kentucky"

Sept. 17, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- A news conference was held today at the University of Kentucky following an announcement of the decision made by the NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee regarding the ban on postseason eligibility for the 2002 football season. The committee concluded that the ban on postseason competition was not excessive or inappropriate based on all the evidence and circumstances.

Following the announcement, UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. expressed his disappointment in the committee's ruling. "I have not wavered on this one issue. From the beginning, I felt this appeal was important for the athletes and the coaches. The vast majority of our current football players and coaches were not involved in the violations. These are the individuals who are trying to rebuild the program the right way. This effort to overturn the postseason ban was about supporting them and providing an incentive for their efforts to restore credibility to UK football. From my view, every coach and every student on that football team is working at 110 percent to earn that credibility and they are doing an outstanding job."

Todd said UK respects the NCAA enforcement process, the enforcement staff and the Committee on Infractions. He stressed that throughout this process, the university was open and cooperative with the infractions committee.

"We never disputed or appealed any of the infractions that were presented. In fact, the university and the committee share a similar goal: upholding integrity in intercollegiate athletics," said Todd.

Todd said the university's appeal was based on the belief that the postseason ban penalty was simply too severe when considered with the other significant penalties imposed in this case. He said the university believes that the NCAA Committee on Infractions was incorrect in its position that the university received a significant recruitment advantage, which dictated the imposition of the postseason ban.

"Despite our best efforts, the Infractions Appeals Committee obviously did not agree with our thinking," said Todd. "I am very disappointed with its ruling. The prospect of postseason play in any sport is what drives the hope and optimism for all of us.

"I am disappointed for our fans. I am disappointed for our coaches. And most of all I am disappointed for the student-athletes on this team who are giving their all to restore this program. This is a pivotal year for UK football and this team is making a difference. For them, I feel the process has let them down," he said.

Todd said UK has admitted its mistakes and accepts full punishment. "The University of Kentucky football program is already way down the road in our rebuilding efforts, and we will move forward from here. These outstanding young men and quality coaches have been through a lot of turmoil the last couple of years. From what I see, with their 3-0 start, it just made them stronger. I am very proud of this team. Every week they are proving just what kind of team they have become, and I'm confident they will learn from this and carry that success into their lives well after their days at UK."

Todd suggested that everyone move forward for the betterment of collegiate athletics. "I believe it is also prudent for us -- and I include in that us, UK and every other university, every athletic conference and the NCAA itself -- to now look beyond any single case and reassess how full accountability of a college athletic program can be attained. I have a real problem with programs that get a sanction of 'lack of institutional control' and the head coach of that program walks away free and clear and moves on to coach at another school while the students are left to pay the price," said Todd .

"Don't misunderstand me, the institutions must be held accountable, but I believe too many times and in too many cases the full range of accountability is not applied. If our goal is to find a remedy to NCAA infractions, I think one method of prevention is to make sure the person at the helm of that program, the head coach, is held responsible for everyone in that program. I offer this idea simply to create some debate and discussion for administrators across the country as we all work to improve the integrity of college athletics and the student experience in our programs," he said.

Todd said he fully supports Guy Morriss and his staff.

"I believe they are doing what is right and necessary to build UK football into a program in which we are all proud. I also believe Mitch Barnhart is doing what is right and necessary to strengthen the entire UK athletics program and ensure that we are not back in front of the Infractions Committee in the future."

UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said, "It is extremely difficult to express the disappointment that our football players and coaching staff is feeling after this decision. They now have to pay the price for the infractions that others have created. But this team has displayed great heart and courage in the face of adversity the past two years, and I truly believe that they will remain focused on the upcoming schedule and continue what could be a storybook season for Kentucky football."

"I like winning just as much as any coach or player in this program, but we are going to be diligent in our efforts to do it the legal way, the fair way, and the right way," said Todd. "From here we have no choice but to take our penalty and keep moving forward and work a little harder."


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