Column: Shoe Box suspensions finally behind UW

· Oct 2, 2001 Tweet

The NCAA officially slapped the Badgers’ wrists Tuesday, as it handed down its decision on the Shoe Box violations.

The terms of their decision may seem harsh on paper, but in reality, the coaches are just happy this ordeal is over.

Last year, head coach Barry Alvarez had to deal with the suspensions of 26 players during the first four games of the season, which caused line-up changes and made what seemed to be easy games much more difficult.

“The punishment that we went through last year and the hoops that we had to jump through last year and the time we had to deal with this, the worst is over,” Alvarez said.

On the basketball court, Travon Davis and Maurice Linton were forced to sit out a third of their season, which also caused acclimation problems on that squad.

Based on yesterday’s decision, the worst the two teams will have to deal with in the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons is the absence of one football grant (the 21 grants were reduced to 20) and one basketball scholarship (the 13 grants were reduced to 12).

As the basketball team stands right now, they have 11 players on the team, so they would have a grant to spare. The football team will have to cut their grants, but it is only by one player.

Nonetheless, UW is not pleased with the loss of any scholarships for its players.

“I am very disappointed by the NCAA’s additional reductions in the number of athletic scholarships, especially for our football program,” UW chancellor John Wiley said.

The football team was hit harder than the basketball team, with an additional term of the decision punishing Alvarez directly. The NCAA ruled that Wisconsin must write a letter reprimanding Alvarez that will be included in his permanent record. The football coach suffered this individual punishment because of “impermissible housing arrangements” that were made for his players.

While the football players were placed in private housing during the summer before they were enrolled at UW, they were supposed to work at the facility in lieu of payment. Obviously, the players did not work off the proper amount of debt owed.

Alvarez was right; the team suffered last season, and in many ways it got off quite easy for the future. The NCAA reported that current athletes owe $11, 500 in merchandise from the Shoe Box, and former athletes owe in excess of $22,000. Add in the cost of rent the players racked up, and the totals from the debt and the cost of the four lost scholarships is comparable.

While the football team will have to play with the disadvantage of having fewer scholarship players, giving their opponents an edge in numbers, the players knew their punishment was coming. They messed up and they got caught, and now they are accepting their punishment and will take the necessary actions.

Where the loss can be felt a little more harshly is on Bo Ryan’s basketball squad. Ryan wasn’t involved in the program when the violations were committed, and although he said he knew the situation with the NCAA when he accepted the coaching position, he still has to pay the price for errors made by previous coaches. And with his relatively new and young squad that is suffering in numbers and depth this year, the loss of players in the future could hurt this program more severely than it will effect the plentiful football squad.

And while many violators of the NCAA rules are still present on the football squad, Davis remains as the lone basketball violator.

Ryan will take his punishment and deal with the consequences as they come up, but he still has to find a way to get through this season first before the NCAA regulations even go into action.

And as far as football is concerned, the team will go on, and Alvarez will just add the letter from Wisconsin to his record. And from now on they will just cover up the Shoe Box t-shirts better under their practice gear.


This article was published Oct 2, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 2, 2001 at 12:00 am


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