Someone asked about some Bama history a few days ago – Chapter 1 "Arrogance" and Chapter 2
"Pay for Play" And "The Contract"
This is a brief on how Alabama fell from grace in the general timeframe of the 1992 Championship thru Coach Fran with some earlier history thrown in for reference. It sheds light (true or false – that is up to the individual) on what happened to bring down the Tide and who all was involved. It definitely helps explain the animosity toward Phil Fulmer. I didn’t write any of the brief and don’t personally know anyone mentioned or attributed. I am not responsible for any typo, spelling, formatting, or whitespace errors. Nor am I responsible for any judgment errors, innuendo, false allegations, heresy, rumor mongering, slander, defamation, or character assassination. I just happened to cut and paste it from a Bama message forum (and I don’t remember which one) way back in the day and thought I might want hang on to it. I am only responsible for segmenting the document into chapters to make it easier to re-post as several RBR Fanpost. As with all Fanpost the content is not approved, condoned, sponsored, attributed, or verified by RBR or SBN and any of their writers, editors, or content providers. Buckle up this is a very long read. – WM58
Posted by clay3482 on February 27, 2004 at 20:59:25:
The Fall Of the Tide
This is only a compilation of public information put in one place so that the truth could come finally out. Some source articles came from MAJOR news outlets and some from Internet Message Board Archives. I will try to credit everyone at the end of the "brief" in Appendix A. This is a rough draft however, so if you see something I missed or in the case of internet posters if you would like your Real Name instead of your Internet Handle credited please let me know.
Thanks to all who have helped!
Roll Tide Forever!
Enjoy The Brief
The seeds of the current situation were sown over a decade ago in the mishandling of the Antonio Langham affair. Our facilities were in good shape relative to other programs thanks to Ray Perkins, Alabama had won the 1992 national championship, and we had a stable coaching situation. Unfortunately, an arrogance permeated the Alabama football program. When the Antonio Langham case was botched, (partly due to the our own arrogance) and the vindictiveness of the NCAA Committee Of Infractions towards Alabama Athletic Director Hootie Ingram the downfall of Alabama was inevitable. A great deal is said here about the so called "good ole boy" network around Alabama athletics - usually by a group of juveniles who belong in a nursery rather than in a football stadium. Alabama Athletic Director Hootie Ingram is frequently tarred with this brush. But say what one will, Athletic Director Hootie Ingram and that group knew what a rough and tumble game SEC football was and how to play hard ball. They also knew how to exercise the inherent power that they held back then by actually Directing the Athletic Department. They held enough power that they could keep coaches, boosters, just about anybody tied to the Athletic Department in check.
Whatever Athletic Director Hootie Ingram faults were, and he had some, his and Dr. Sayers departures were the genesis of every ill fated circumstance and disaster that has followed. When University President Andrew Sorensen entered the scene he ingratiated himself immediately with the Alabama folks through his wife constantly reminding people that she didn't like Tuscaloosa and wanted to go back to Gainesville. She even went so far as to bet on a horse one time in front of a bunch of prominent University supporters because "the horse had Florida colors on. (orange and blue) " Not smart. That aside, University President Andrew Sorensen never had any fundamental grasp of the interplay between the health of the football program and the University as a whole. But one thing he did want, was to bring the athletic department under his thumb. And that he did. The first act was in hiring Bob Bockrath as Athletic Director.
Every school where Bob Bockrath had been that University had ended up on NCAA probation. I assume from what I have been able to gather most probably due to the fact that he was a poor manager and a weak leader. At Alabama he was no different and these characteristics would have devastating consequences.
In 1995, the NCAA culminated an investigation into Alabama football by setting an unprecedented penalty for such a relatively light infraction...
Let me backtrack a bit. Let's go back further.
Back in the 80's, after Coach Paul Bear Bryant died, Alabama went through several years of turmoil. Ray Perkins came to Alabama, then left abruptly. Bill Curry was chosen, over the objections of a number of boosters and former players, then ended up leaving just as abruptly. Despite what people have said, neither was forced out, and, in fact, both left at the height of their popularity with Tide fans.
During this turmoil at Alabama (and other SEC schools), Pat Dye had a very stable situation at Auburn. And a couple of SEC titles as a result. In fact, even in Coach Shug Jordan's heyday, Auburn rarely had a period of excellence like they did under Dye.
It all came crashing down with Eric Ramsey however.
I won't bore you with the details and to tell you the truth I don't know them nearly as well. I have not put a lot of research into the Eric Ramsey case because it happened when I was young and Auburn is not my school. If there is any Auburn equivalent to me out there that is interested in putting the TRUTH out and trying to stop this ugly mess I will be more than happy to offer your side in this "Brief" as well. That being said Suffice I believe it is safe to say that Auburn boosters seethed at what they saw as an injustice and knowing the NCAA it probably was. Alabama fans gloating over Our in-state rival's "getting caught again" didn't help matters. Alabama and Auburn fans need to wake up and understand that if they don't start working together, and realize that this hatred of each other must STOP then I fear BOTH universities will destroy each other. To the delight of the rest of the south and nation I might add. Anyway I digress. Some Auburn boosters/fans were anxious to "get even", And, in Gene Jelks, they thought they had their answer. I have found on internet message boards archives references to a Operation ITAT (Its Time for the Auburn Tigers) put into Operation dated as far back as 92. (see Appendix B).
"Pay for Play" And "The Contract"
On November 12, 1992, a newspaper ran an article containing statements by Gene Jelks, alleging that NCAA rules violations had occurred during his recruitment and after his subsequent enrollment at Alabama. In late 1992, and early 1993, the NCAA enforcement staff conducted several interviews with the former student-athlete and other individuals who reported potential rules violations.
In the early hours of Jan. 1, 1993, a tired but jubilant Antonio Langham was celebrating Alabama's national championship. During the course of this celebration he met an agent. This agent talked him into signing a contract to represent Langham for $400. We don't know whether Langham was drunk or what his true motives were at this time. We do know he did sign the contract.
These 2 events are the catalyst for the 1995 sanctions.
Now before I go further let me tell you Hootie is the key to why we got into trouble with the NCAA in 95 in my opinion. After all they had never really even investigated us before the Langham affair. So after we get hammered the public wants to know why all of a sudden the NCAA was really mad at Alabama. All assumed that it must be because Alabama was always dirty and they just couldn't "get us". Which is wrong, it was just the opposite, we were so clean that no one could catch us doing wrong. We Had to be or we were the most clever bunch of cheaters ever. Look We won 1 National Championship in 92 since then we have had the NCAA up our A-to the point they are almost checking our tonsils. Think how much the NCAA would have wanted to nail Bear Bryant. He had to of been looked at, Can you imagine how much the NCAA boiled after he sued them, won National Championship's in the 60's and 70's etc. there had to be some NCAA investigator who wanted to hammer us.
Fast forward to 92 and There in lies the big problem. When the NCAA shows up on our doorstep Hootie treats them in a very high handed fashion. He knows the Antonio thing is BS plus being one mans word(a bum) against another who was a saint. So Hootie takes the "how dare you" approach. Don't you know that were ALABAMA...you don't come down here accusing us as though we were Auburn......and the NCAA really gets a case of the "we'll show you who has the power "attitude and the fight is on...from then on we were "out there " for anyone to run any kind of scam to put us in the dog house they wanted. Anyway, I digress. Back to Jelks and Langham.
It is known that Gene Jelks met with Auburn boosters on several occasions. It is also known that Gene Jelks lived comfortably in a very nice Atlanta apartment, with about $35,000 in "salary", but no visible means of earning it (this information, courtesy of Jerry Pullen's lawsuit against Gene Jelks, before the judge finally put the clamps on information). It is also known that several unnamed Auburn boosters met in central Alabama, copying a bunch of checks allegedly paid to Gene Jelks. These Checks were supposedly for work that Gene Jelks did not do. This charge made against the man who wrote them was cleared at later time by the NCAA. Now the checks were obtained illegally when an Auburn booster "acquired" them out of the file of a divorce lawyer, who had them as evidence of a X-husband's or former employer of Gene Jelks to prove his financial state. The Auburn booster never said where he got the checks, and no one ever pressed the issue, again.
Yet, despite two years of Jelks accusing, all the NCAA ever found on Alabama were an instance where Gene Jelks received some form of assistance after his eligibility was over (from a source he never accused, by the way). In the first allegation, Jelks initially claimed that he received cash to play football at Alabama. These allegations could not be proven. In fact, during the investigation, information was developed that pointed to Jelks receiving money to MAKE the allegations. The investigation only revealed that Jelks had taken out loans without making the proper arrangements with the university. The loans were obtained at financial institutions where Alabama "boosters" were officers. Some, if not all, of these loans took place AFTER Jelks had used all of his eligibility.
The question that many want to know is what did the university do wrong? From the 1995 NCAA report, "The institution failed to obtain the required documentation for the student-athlete's purchase of disability insurance. These records would have revealed the existence of at least one impermissible loan." Also mentioned in the report is the fact that Jelks LIED to the university during this process.
Was the university at fault to some extent? Yes. We should have been more diligent in our compliance practices. The investigation showed that our process for documenting this kind of activity was lacking. Did we try to hide anything or "cheat"? No, Simply put, our compliance department like many others was not very good in 1989.
The second part of this concerns the Antonio Langham incident. There has been much debate on this and lots of misinformation. In a nutshell, after Alabama had won the 1992 national championship Langham was celebrating and thought about "going pro". Some agent talked him into signing a $400 contract. Langham, when thinking clearly about it, didn't want to go pro. He told Coach Gene Stallings that he had signed up to enter the NFL draft but wanted his name taken off. He neglected to tell Stallings of the contract however. Later in that year, Stallings was made aware of an agent who was claiming Langham had signed a contract.
This is the most hard-to-get-at-the-truth point of this charge. There is no indication that Stallings tried to hide or cheat with Langham. Athletic Director Hootie Ingram has stated that they had 5 or 6 signed, notarized affidavits from Langham stating that he did not sign with an agent. When the agent finally came forward and made Alabama aware that Langham had indeed signed a contract, Stallings suspended Langham, right before the SEC Championship Game. There was no intent to play ineligible players, just a poor effort at finding out the truth of the matter. Langham contributed to the mess by lying to Stallings about the contact with the agent. Stalling's mistake was trying to investigate this. That was not his job. The mistake was made worse by the ineffective efforts of Athletic Director Hootie Ingram. Both should have turned it over to the compliance officer.
During the course of the investigation (including deliberation by the Committee on Infractions), someone "decided" that Dean Tom Jones, the Faculty Representative, had lied to the NCAA about his actions. The NCAA later regretted making that charge. Jones sued the NCAA for slander. The NCAA, knowing it couldn't back up it's charge, settled out of court for a seven-figure settlement.
So, for this entire investigation, which spanned nearly 3 years, the NCAA found:
1) Our compliance department was not very well organized, which allowed a student-athlete to take out a loan, which he shouldn't have taken out.
2) We botched an in-house investigation of a player signing with an agent.
A. For that, we self-imposed: Disassociation of two representatives of the institution's athletics interests. (Those associated with loaning Jelks the money.)
B. Reduction football Scholarships by 4 during the 1995-96 academic year.
The NCAA Enforcement Staff had reached an agreement with the university on that penalty.
However, when this went before the NCAA Committee on Infractions, they decided to tack on:
Public reprimand and censure.
Three years of probation.
Prohibition from participating in post-season competition in football during the 95-96 academic year.
Loss of 4 football scholarships during academic years 95-96.
Loss of 13 football scholarships during academic years 96-97.
Loss of 9 football scholarships during academic years 97-98
That is 22 ADDITIONAL scholarships.
Forfeiture of the 11 regular season football games during the 93-94 academic year.
Requirement that the institution continue to develop a comprehensive athletic compliance education program, with annual reports to the committee during the period of probation.
Requirements that the university send four individuals to an NCAA rules seminar each year of probation and Recertification of current athletics policies and practices.
In the history of the NCAA, this was the most blatant overreach and over-penalization ever. The NCAA used a bazooka to kill a gnat. To this day, Alabama fans cannot understand why the NCAA chose to "hammer" Alabama for so seemingly minor infractions. And keep in mind, we are not now claiming we were innocent, just let the sentence fit the crime. Also, one thing this should not have done was set a precedent of how the NCAA would deal with Alabama in the future. The NCAA should deal with each institution equally, equitably and fairly.
One more thing to keep in mind. Alabama disassociated the boosters who were involved in the minor infractions. We didn't hide it, didn't fight it, didn't excuse it. We did NOT let our boosters run amuck. We took our punishment and implemented the changes. My opinion Alabama was hit with excessive penalties in the case, and the faculty rep to athletics was slandered. We also know that Roy Kramer asked for the level of severity Alabama received (courtesy of Joe Buffington, a former NCAA investigator who was there when Kramer asked for it). The penalties were eventually reduced, in appeals, and Dr. Jones, the faculty rep, received a nice out of court settlement.
Key point, here, missing from all the other talk: Alabama's 1995 NCAA penalties had nothing to do with recruiting, and were questionable.