FSU says giving up coaches' wins unfair

The Associated PressJuly 2, 2009 

— Florida State says it's unfair to take wins off the individual records of football coach Bobby Bowden and other coaches and athletes who had no role in an academic cheating scandal.

In an appeal to the NCAA on Wednesday, the university argued that a proposal to strip the school, its coaches and athletes of victories in several sports is too harsh and should be reversed.

If not, the penalty would cost Bowden up to 14 wins. Taking that many victories off his personal record would give Bowden little chance of catching Penn State's Joe Paterno in their race to be major college football's winningest coach. Paterno has 383 wins, just one more than Bowden, who is entering his 34th season at Florida State.

The appeal cites FSU's cooperation with the NCAA and self-imposed penalties including the loss of athletic scholarships and the suspension of those who cheated on an online music history test.

Florida State's backup argument is that even if wins should be stripped from the school's record, the individual records of innocent coaches and athletes should not be docked. Under that scenario Florida State would still lose its 1997 national championship in track and field and the football team would lose victories but Bowden would not.

The 20-page appeal says it serves no valid purpose to rewrite the won-loss records of a coach or a baseball or softball pitcher who did not cheat because of violations committed by others. It also notes that athletes whose accomplishments are measured by other factors such as touchdowns or rushing yards would not be punished.

"The NCAA should protect -- and not penalize -- those who play by the rules," wrote Florida State's legal team headed by William E. Williams.

The NCCA's Infractions Committee in March added the loss of wins to the penalties Florida State imposed on itself last year.

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