California’s football team was banned from bowl competition next season and the university was placed on probation for five years because of rules violations in the football program, the NCAA announced Wednesday.
Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl said the university will appeal the ruling, which also includes a reduction of nine football scholarships over the next five seasons.
The violations stem from academic improprieties involving two Cal football players who competed while ineligible in 1999, and from improper benefits given to 34 players and four recruits for incidental hotel expenses between 1997 and 2001. Three of the recruits went on to play for the Golden Bears.
Cal was considered a repeat offender by the NCAA because the violations occurred within five years of another major infraction involving the men’s basketball team in 1997, subjecting the university to more severe penalties.
Berdahl called the penalties “unfairly punitive.” The NCAA imposed the sanctions in addition to penalties meted out last year by the Pacific 10 Conference, which placed Cal on one-year probation and cut four football scholarships over two seasons.
All of the violations occurred while Tom Holmoe was football coach. Holmoe resigned in November after a five-year record of 16-39, including 1-10 last season.
Jeff Tedford, former offensive coordinator at Oregon, said he was made aware of Cal’s problems before being hired as coach in December. Athletic Director Steve Gladstone was hired last June.
“I expected we would receive some additional penalty from the NCAA, although it is unfortunate that a new administration and coaching staff must bear the burden,” Tedford said in a statement.
Former Cal football players Ronnie Davenport and Mike Ainsworth received credit for an ethnic studies class they had not taken in the spring of 1999.
Cal must forfeit all 11 games during the 1999 season in which the two receivers played. Davenport and Ainsworth, a former Monrovia High standout, flunked out of Cal after the 1999 fall semester.
The NCAA found that a lack of institutional control occurred at Cal because it failed to adequately investigate allegations of academic fraud after repeated indications that the violations had occurred.
In January, the Pac-10 reported additional possible violations at Cal pertaining to the improper payment of hotel incidental expenses incurred by players and recruits. Of the 38 players and recruits involved, 27 competed while ineligible.
Because of -conference-imposed restrictions, Cal played last season with 81 scholarship players. The NCAA ruling, if upheld, means Cal would lose two scholarships in each of the next four seasons and one in 2006 before returning to the NCAA limit of 85 in 2007.