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Friday, March 6, 2009
Alabama awaits its NCAA fate in textbook case

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's never a good thing when you have to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions as Alabama did on Feb. 20 in connection with the 2007 textbook violations.

It's especially unnerving when the NCAA starts throwing around "major violation" references, and it's also worth noting that Alabama could still be under the gun as a "repeat offender" stemming from the 2002 sanctions.

The NCAA is expected to render a final decision on Alabama's punishment in May. Keep in mind the textbook violations weren't just confined to football players. There were also allegedly some track athletes involved.

After talking with people at Alabama, I continue to believe that nothing serious will come out of this. It's not like the Crimson Tide gained a competitive advantage or somehow enticed an athlete to come to Alabama by its "failure to adequately monitor its student-athlete textbook distribution system," as the NCAA has charged and Alabama has admitted.

Football players Antoine Caldwell, Glen Coffee, Marlon Davis, Chris Rogers and Marquis Johnson were suspended for four games during the 2007 season after Alabama officials launched an internal investigation into the impermissible receipt of textbooks.

Caldwell told me toward the end of last season that the only thing he did was get extra textbooks for his girlfriend to help save her some money. So this hardly sounds like a "major" violation.

Still, Alabama officials are braced for a slap on the hand, maybe the loss of a few scholarships or some restrictions placed on official visits.

More than anything, it's an embarrassment for Alabama. Just hearing those four letters (N-C-A-A) causes Crimson Tide fans to huff in disgust.

I joked with somebody in Alabama on Thursday night that Phillip Fulmer's name probably wouldn't come up in this one.

Not so fast, I was told.

The suspensions of the five players -- three of them starters -- were handed down the night before Alabama and Tennessee played in 2007, and the Crimson Tide still went out the next day and shredded the Vols 41-17.