UCF asking NCAA for expedited appeal of ban
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Central Florida may still face a football postseason ban this season after requesting an expedited appeal for that part of the sanctions levied by the NCAA last month.
UCF spokesman Grant Heston said the school was notifying the NCAA of its intent to appeal on Wednesday.
"This is the correct decision for our student-athletes, athletics program and university," Heston said in a statement to The Associated Press. "We have cooperated with and respect the NCAA, but believe the football postseason ban is not appropriate."
The NCAA imposed one-year postseason bans for men's basketball and football on July 31. Those penalties were in addition to a $50,000 fine, adding two years to UCF's previously proposed three years' probation, reduction of basketball scholarships, the vacating of basketball victories and tighter limits of football recruiting visit days.
UCF has accepted all other penalties except the football postseason ban, Heston said.
The punishments stem from a 2011 investigation that found the programs were involved with runners for sports agents and making cash payments to recruits.
When the NCAA released the penalties on July 31, UCF president John Hitt said it was believed that the appeal process could last throughout the 2012 season and thus allow the Knights to participate in both a potential Conference USA football championship game and subsequent bowl game.
Hitt called the impending appeal "well-grounded" last month, noting that none of the players UCF illegally recruited actually played football at the school.
He told the Orlando Sentinel that school officials have since heard conflicting information regarding the length of the process and decided it was best speed up the process.
If the appeal process is not decided by season's end, UCF would serve the ban in 2013 when it begins competing in the Big East Conference in all sports. Next season is also the final year of the Big East's automatic qualifier status to the Bowl Championship Series.
UCF football was picked to win Conference USA's East Division this season in a preseason media poll after coming off a 5-7 campaign in 2011.
Former athletic director Keith Tribble and assistant football coach David Kelly were cited for unethical conduct by the NCAA last year and resigned. Tribble was given a three-year show-cause order and Kelly a one-year order. It means any institution that hires them in that time must prove to the NCAA that they are rules compliant.
Basketball coach Donnie Jones served a three-game suspension last season and was given a three-year show-cause order beginning next season.
Rules compliance has been an issue at UCF. The school just got off two years of NCAA probation in February after football staff members were cited for placing impermissible calls to perspective recruits over an 18-month period from 2007 to 2009.
Because of the previous major violation, the school is considered to be a repeat offender and faces stiffer penalties for the latest infractions.
The NCAA's investigation began last year following media reports of UCF officials and athletes had involvement with a man named Ken Caldwell, a reputed recruiter for a professional sports agency, and associate Brandon Bender.
The NCAA said in a notice of allegations to UCF last August that Caldwell and Bender "assisted the institution in the recruitment of six men's basketball players and five football perspective student-athletes" through inducements including cash payments.
It also said Tribble, Caldwell and Jeff Lagos, a "known representative of the institution's athletics interests, attempted to arrange employment" for people involved.
UCF kicks off its football season Aug. 30 at Akron.