NCAA cancels SMU 1987 football season


DALLAS -- The NCAA, enraged over violations that are 'nothing short of abysmal,' Wednesday canceled Southern Methodist University's 1987 football season in the harshest penalty ever imposed by the governing body.

The six-member infractions committee hit the scandal-ridden football program with other sanctions that could effectively reduce SMU's ability to field a competitive team into the 1990s.


'These penalties have deterrent value for others who might be tempted to follow the example set by Southern Methodist University,' the committee said.

'Not only is SMU a repeat major violator, but its past record of violations is nothing short of abysmal.'

The committee added that 'numerous individuals associated with the university's athletics program, including key staff members and outside representatives, have been committed to achieving athletics success through deliberate and flagrant violations of fundamental NCAA rules.'

The findings were announced at a news conference on the SMU campus during which NCAA enforcement director David Berst briefly collapsed from the effects of the flu and the strain of the proceedings. He collapsed as he left the meeting room for fresh air, but soon returned to the news conference.


In addition to losing its 1987 football season, SMU will be allowed to play only seven games in 1988 -- instead of 11 -- and all those games must be played on the road. Losing lucrative dates with Oklahoma and Notre Dame over the next two years will add a financial burden to the program.

SMU will be under NCAA probation until September 1990 and may not be on television or in bowl games during that time. It may not hire more than one head coach and five assistants until Aug. 1, 1989, may not sign any players until next February and then may sign only 15. The coaches may not recruit off-campus until August 1988.

SMU officials said they would not appeal the sanctions, which come after the resignations of SMU president L. Donald Shields ,who cited health reasons, football coach Bobby Collins and athletic director Bob Hitch. All those positions remain vacant.

'Southern Methodist University views the wrongdoings which have been done in its name with regret and with embarrassment,' said interim school president Dr. William Stallcup. 'At the same time, in having acted upon those principles which we regard as of the highest value, I believe we can look upon the conduct of our institution in these past several weeks with pride and with confidence for the future.'


The NCAA cited a decision by unnamed athletic department officials to continue making payments to athletes even after the school went on probation in 1985.

'Certain key athletics department staff members agreed that promises made to student-athletes ... should continue to be fulfilled,' the committee report said.

The report said 13 football players received payments during the 1985-87 academic year that totaled approximately $47,000 and eight athletes continued to receive payments from September through December in 1986 that totaled about $14,000.

Faced with that evidence, the infractions committee ignored the request of Berst and the enforcement wing of the NCAA that SMU be allowed to play football this year.

The players currently at SMU are immediately free to transfer to other schools without losing eligibility. Most were expected to do so.

'But I think this isn't fair,' said defensive back Mark Vincent. 'It hurts too many innocent people. I have no respect for the NCAA. They punished 60 innocent people.'

SMU has been on probation five times over the past 11 years, chiefly because of the acts of boosters. When the school was placed on probation in 1985, 13 boosters were ordered to disassociate themselves from the program. But the NCAA said one of them continued to take part in illegal payments.


'When it became apparent in August 1985 that payments to football team members had not stopped, that booster was not prohibited from continuing these payments,' the committee's statement said.

Berst, Stallcup and SMU faculty athletic director Lonnie Kliever refused to discuss the names of those involved, saying anonymity was promised to obtain information.

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