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A Times Editorial

A fitting penalty for FSU scandal

Florida State University's misguided and expensive attempt to stave off NCAA sanctions for an athletic student cheating scandal has finally come to an end. The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee ruled against the school Tuesday, upholding the penalty, which could strip the school of wins in 10 different sports — including up to 14 of the 389 victories credited to former Seminole football coach Bobby Bowden.

It's the correct outcome and one FSU should have embraced before it spent at least $201,000 defending itself in the matter and another $81,000 on a related public records lawsuit.

Only in the most charitable light could the rampant academic misconduct that led to the sanctions be regarded as good intentions gone awry, as FSU claimed. The school recruited athletes who could not read above a second-grade level, then provided them with remedial reading help and used old tests as study guides. With that came tutoring of the sort that does more harm than good — writing outlines for the athletes' papers, then helping them redraft their papers when they didn't measure up.

Eventually, the athletes' handlers went even further, giving them answers for an online music course exam. FSU found 61 athletes in 10 sports had committed academic fraud.

FSU has fired three staff members who were involved, and Bowden has retired. Now it is time to shake off the warped values that put participation on the field ahead of basic integrity.

FSU has a new head football coach, Jimbo Fisher. And it has a new president, Eric Barron, a scientist with a strong, innovative academic record. As the school begins a new era, it needs a new attitude.

Pay the piper and move on.

A fitting penalty for FSU scandal 01/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 6:55pm]
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