By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday November 14, 2002
After finishing last season with a 1-10 record, the only positive thing for the California Bears was that they at least got the one win.
The furthest thing from the team's mind was a bowl berth and after the NCAA infractions committee banned the Bears from bowl eligibility in 2002, playing after the regular season ended was out of the question.
Arizona at Cal
· Time: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
· TV: none
Along comes the 2002 season.
The Bears (6-4, 3-3) opened up the season with a 70-22 win over Baylor and now find themselves one win away from becoming bowl eligible, and hope that win comes Saturday when they host Arizona.
However, they still have the NCAA ban.
"I think it would be a major injustice (to not make a bowl)," said first-year Cal head coach Jeff Tedford. "Things happened that were out of (the players') control. I would feel bad that these guys would get that opportunity (to play in a bowl game)."
On Friday Nov. 9, members of a Cal delegation took a step to get the Bears into a bowl this season. Cal athletic director Steve Gladstone, associate athletic director Dan Coonan, chancellor Robert Berdahl, vice chancellor Michael Smith and two attorneys met with the NCAA appeals committee in hopes of getting the penalty lifted.
The Cal delegation asked for a decision to be made as soon as possible. One is expected before the Bears season finale against Stanford Nov. 23.
There have been two other appeals this season, by Alabama and Kentucky. Both were denied, but were different cases.
Cal's penalties started in 1999 when two former wide receivers, Ronnie Davenport and Michael Ainsworth, were allowed to play after getting credits from a class they never attended.
"One of the perpetrators of the academics issue transferred to another school, and he is bowl eligible," Tedford said. "Why should these kids, especially the seniors, be shut out of a bowl opportunity because of a mistake someone else made?"
In Cal's internal investigation, it discovered that the professor that gave the student-athletes credits acted independently and the school imposed its own penalties.
Cal also informed the NCAA of 34 student-athletes received extra benefits while staying at hotels before games. The expenses ranged from $.75 to $323.03 and 20 of the 34 players received less than $20 in charges. These incidents come up in a five-year period between 1997-2001 and were discovered during the school's internal investigation.
Cal gave up two football scholarships for each the 2002 and 2003 seasons and the Pacific 10 Conference endorsed the penalties.
However, the NCAA increased the severity of the sanctions because of another infraction in the last 10 years by the basketball team. The added punishment was the loss of an additional nine "initial" scholarships over the next four years and the inability to compete in a bowl game.
"It was more of an institution thing, than just a football issue," Tedford said. "I hope that they would take into consideration that this stemmed from a basketball issue, like a second strike thing, and I would just hope they wouldn't penalize our players for that."