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NCAA places Texas A&M football program on probation

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Texas A&M University avoided the 'death penalty' Wednesday but was placed on probation for five years by the NCAA Committee on Infractions for major violations in its football program committed from 1990 to 1992.

Texas A&M's football team also will be excluded from playing in a bowl game or appearing on television during the 1994 season. The NCAA did not take away any football scholarships, however, or place limits on the recruiting program.

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The violations cited by the NCAA include the paying of athletes for work that was not performed, providing financial aid for prospective athletes and providing extra benefits to athletes.

Several players, including star running back Greg Hill, were suspended during the 1993 season for receiving pay for work that was not performed. Hill missed the first four games of the season.

'We believe that the penalties imposed by the NCAA Committee on Infractions are significant and it is disappointing to note that the actions of a few individuals can have such a significant impact on a university so committed to compliance,' Texas A&M Interim President Dr. Dean E. Gage said in a prepared statement.

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David Swank, an Oklahoma University law professor and chairman of the Infractions Committee, said the NCAA's harshest sanction -- the so-called death penalty for repeat violations -- was considered because of similar rules violations concerning the summer work program in 1988.

However, the death penalty was not imposed, he said, because only one representative of the university's athletic interest was involved in the case, and the university conducted its own 'prompt and thorough investigation' and cooperated with the NCAA enforcement staff.

'We discussed it (death penalty) but decided there were enough unique factors that it was an inappropriate penalty in this case,' Swank said in a teleconference with the media. 'But for the strong action taken by (school officials) the penalty would have been more severe. One can only hope that the alumni of Texas A&M will follow their example.'

Swank said A&M officials had made a commitment to comply with NCAA rules, but those efforts 'have been thwarted' by a prominent alum who paid athletes for work that was not performed.

According to the NCAA investigation, Dallas booster Warren A. Gilbert paid nine Aggie players a total of $27,000 for their summer jobs at several apartment complexes in Dallas. Investigators determined that $18,000 of that amount was unearned.

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The NCAA barred Gilbert from involvement in the Texas A&M athletic program for five years, which means he will not be allowed to help recruit players, donate money to the program or provide direct or indirect financial aide to players.

Texas A&M is only the third school to receive five years' probation since 1988 and one of three schools to receive seven NCAA sanctions since 1952.

The Infractions Committee cited A&M for a lack of institutional control regarding the jobs program, the same as in the 1988 case.

Swank said the school knew there had been problems in 1988 and should have provided more monitoring and control of the program.

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