Representatives of the West Coast colleges declared ineligible for Rose Bowl competition by vote of the Pacific-10 Conference Monday said yesterday they hope the action will help restore academic integrity and credibility to their programs.
"I hope the severity of these penalties would give anybody great pause before considering anything fraudulent in the future," said Robert MacVicar, president of Oregon State University. "We want the penalties to have a corrective effect."
Capping an investigation that began last October, the presidents and chancellors of the conference cited five schools for a variety of irregularities, including unearned credits awarded to athletes, falsified transcripts and unwarranted intrusions by the athletic departments into the academic process.
The schools -- Oregon State, Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Arizona State were declared ineligible for the conference championship this year and any postseason games, including the Rose Bowl.
Sanctions on such a scale are virtually unprecedented in college athletics. Previous instances of disciplinary actions taken simultaneously against so many schools in a single conference could not be immediately recalled.
Officials of the NCAA declined comment on the Pac-10 case, but a spokesman did say a report the conference action would routinely be sent to the association. Further disciplinary action by the NCAA was considered a strong possibility.
"While the likelihood of Oregon State's going to the Rose Bowl was essentially zero, I nonetheless regard this as a severe penalty," said MacVicar. "We have been publicly reprimanded."
MacVicar added that he hoped the conference actions would be a first step in leading to such reforms as stricter admissions standards and the barring of freshmen from participation in varsity football and basketball.
"It seems to me that even one fraudulent action is sufficient to bring about a very drastic response," said MacVicar. "I believe the conference acted very wisely."
At Southern California, the conference champion last year and until Monday considered a strong contender for the 1981 Rose Bowl, assistant athletic director Ray George said, "It just looks like we'll have to wait until next year."
"It's tough not having that goal," said George. "It's especially disappointing to the coaches, but we've got to live by the rules so we'll have to do the best we can. We're just hoping it ends here."
"You know, this is something like driving a car. All of us occasionally break the rules, and some of the time we don't even mean to. Most of the time we don't get caught, but we try our darndest not to break any rules."
Robert Fischer, director of athletics at UCLA, said the sanctions could have serious financial implications for the university's sports program.
"Probably, our appearances on television will be decreased, and it could affect attendance at some of our games," said Fischer.
"We regret very much the embarrassment caused the university as well as the Pacific-10 Conference," he added. "This was due to negligence on our part, but we've taken steps to see that this will never happen again. We now have an athletic academic counselor who does not report to the athletic department."
However, Dick Vermeil, a former UCLA coach and now coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, called the conference sanctions "a bunch of baloney".
"There's a lot worse things than fixing a kid's grade," the Associated Press quoted Vermeil as saying.
"They hire and fire football coaches on the basis of wins and losses. They don't give tenure like with a chemistry teacher. If the chemistry teacher was evaluated on 12 weekends on the basis of wins and losses, he'd probably find a way to make sure the students got a better grade, too."
At Arizona State, where the scandals first surfaced with the discovery that football players had received credit for courses they did not attend, President John Schwada said the conference action "was necessary".
"I think it was important and I am confident that members of the conference acted properly," said Schwada. "I suspect it was very nearly unprecedented that a conference of 10 schools would sit down and take the action it did towards five of its own members. I think it was good for athletics and it was good for the conference."
Curtis Simic, vice president of Oregon, said, "It was the best thing for the conference to make a clean sweep. I don't recall of any conference looking as hard and close at its own practices as we have since this thing broke. We feel we were fairly treated at the Universtiy of Oregon."