As NCAA penalties go, the Clemson Tigers received a slap on the paw yesterday. The NCAA put the school's football program on one year of probation for paying players, but the team will not be banned from bowl games or television appearances.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled that on at least two occasions in 1985, a player received between $50 and $70 from a coach with the idea of distributing it to another player. The committee also said that the player received $50 from a booster in 1987.
This investigation began last August. By January, the school sought and received the negotiated resignation of Coach Danny Ford, under whom the violations occurred. Though this is the second time the Tigers were penalized for violations committed in the 1980s, Ford's successor, Ken Hatfield, will barely feel the sting.
"I'm breathing a lot easier," Hatfield said.
The Tigers could have received two years of probation and been barred from bowl games and television. They also could have faced a reduction in scholarships and restrictions on off-campus recruiting.
"We find it very distasteful to be here," Clemson President Max Lennon said at a news conference, the Associated Press reported. "Our goal is the same as the other member institutions of the NCAA, that is we want to have a zero tolerance of violation of NCAA rules. And that is our intent."
The penalties are much more lenient than those recently imposed on Maryland and North Carolina State. For violations that occurred in its men's basketball program, Maryland was put on probation and prevented from appearing in the next two NCAA tournaments and on television for one year.
"Probation is extremely serious, and we take probation at Clemson very seriously," Lennon said. "So we are not off the hook."
"We're glad to get it behind us," Athletic Director Bobby Robinson said. "It's been tough on a lot of people."
The penalties were not harsher because, according to the committee report, the violations were not the result of a lack of institutional control and the university cooperated with the NCAA in conducting the investigation. The committee also reportedly found the violations limited in nature and not part of a pattern.
Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference today. Under Ford, the Tigers won the national championship in 1981, but were put on two years' probation in 1982. The Tigers are not subject to the so-called "death penalty" for repeat offenders for this violation because five years had elapsed between the time the transgressions were uncovered.
The NCAA investigation began last summer amid reports that Clemson reserve quarterback Michael Carr -- who was driving an $18,000 sports car -- had received an improper inducement to become a Tiger. When the NCAA orginally filed its official letter of inquiry early in January, it charged the school with 14 rules violations from 1984 to 1988. Some of those included prohibited contacts between coaches and high school players. Later one of the charges was dropped; two others were amended.