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Cal press conference
Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl, flanked by Cal football coach Jeff Tedford (left) and Athletic Director Steve Gladstone, announces that Cal will appeal sanctions imposed June 26 on Cal's football team for past rule violations.

Statement from Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl regarding NCAA penalties imposed against the Cal Football team
26 June 2002

Public Affairs

We have called this press conference to announce that we will appeal todayís decision by the NCAA to impose a one-year post-season ban on Cal football and penalize the program with the loss of a total of 13 football scholarships over the next five seasons.

We take violations of NCAA rules very seriously at Cal. In the case of academic fraud, there is no university that takes this issue more seriously. I consider the awarding of unearned academic credit to violate the most basic principle of a university. The case of academic impropriety involving two former student athletes and a professor in the spring semester of 1999, thus, I consider to be an extremely serious violation, and a violation fully deserving of a serious penalty. We self-imposed a penalty that we believed met that standard and the infractions committee of the Pac-10 agreed. The penalty included the loss of four football scholarships over two years and probation for one year.

Later, following the arrival of a new athletic administrative team we discovered the department had failed to require student athletes on the football team who had made unauthorized hotel charges to reimburse the university for those charges. This failure and the failure to manage the related eligibility reinstatement process had unfortunately been allowed to persist over several seasons. We immediately initiated our own investigation of the matter and reported our findings to the NCAA infractions staff with whom we were already cooperating in their investigation of the academic fraud matter. These infractions in and of themselves were relatively minor, in some cases they amounted to an unauthorized phone call of 75 cents, in most other cases charges of a few dollars. It would be difficult to construe these infractions as giving Cal a competitive advantage since if they had been cleared up in a timely fashion and the athletes reinstated properly they would not have risen to a level necessary to report to the NCAA. The problem is that the infractions were allowed to accumulate without being addressed and players who were technically ineligible were allowed to compete.

We recognized that we faced penalties for this failure of administrative control and expected that this new infraction would result in additional loss of scholarships. We believe, however, that the addition of nine scholarships beyond the four already self-imposed and, above all, the deprivation of the teamís ability to compete in post-season play this year is unfairly punitive. For this reason we plan to appeal the penalties. I do not think it is in the interests of university sport, or the NCAA, to impose penalties that appear to be disproportionately extreme.