NORMAN, Okla. — The University of Oklahoma football program, which has won six national championships, was handed a 3-year probation Monday for repeated recruiting violations that National Collegiate Athletic Assn. officials said the school should have controlled.
The school administration and Coach Barry Switzer said the penalties, including a 2-year ban from bowl games, no live television next season and recruiting restrictions, were too harsh, and interim university president David Swank said the decision would be appealed.
The Sooners were charged in an NCAA report with 20 recruiting violations over the past 8 years.
The NCAA report said Oklahoma's football staff gave a recruit an envelope with $1,000 in cash, scalped game tickets and arranged for free airline tickets for players.
Switzer wrote personal checks to pay for players' rental cars and to supplement salaries of assistant coaches, then allegedly lied to the NCAA about what he told his superiors, the report said.
An assistant coach got into a "bidding war" for a recruit, lied about it to the NCAA and then tried to get witnesses to change testimony, the report said.
Switzer denied there was any pattern of wrongdoing during his 16-year tenure as coach.
"I know, and I believe that our coaches know, that we do not violate NCAA rules," Switzer said.
Two assistant coaches and a former recruiting coordinator were named in most of the recruiting violations, but Athletic Director Donnie Duncan said they would not be fired.
He said former recruiting coordinator Shirley Vaughan had been removed from her position, and assistant coaches Scott Hill and Mike Jones were disciplined.
He said Oklahoma's athletic department stood to lose between $750,000 and $1 million in each of the next 2 years. Those figures take into account television contracts and the payout given to bowl teams, which the team splits with the conference.
Swank would not name players and recruits mentioned in the sanctions, but former state Sen. Norman Lamb of Enid, Okla., was among the boosters identified.
Oklahoma football players, who will leave Dec. 25 to play Clemson in the Citrus Bowl Jan. 2, reacted with shock and disappointment.
"I really can't believe the penalties are this harsh," senior split end Carl Cabbiness said Sunday. "I mean, yes, some things were done wrong, but I don't think anything that major. I can't believe it."
The sanctions call for only 18 scholarships in each of the next 2 years instead of the normal 25. Also, the number of paid visits by recruits will be limited to 50 in each of the next 2 years instead of the allotted 85.
Senior quarterback Jamelle Holieway said: "It's sad because I know OU's going to have a great team next year. The probation will probably take away from the season a little bit."