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Thursday, March 19, 2009
Bowden: NCAA penalty 'too stiff'

ESPN.com news services

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden is supporting the university's appeal of an NCAA sanction stripping wins from Seminoles sports teams whose athletes were involved in an academic fraud scandal.

Under the NCAA penalties, 10 of the school's sports teams are being forced to vacate wins involving athletes who cheated -- including as many as 14 wins by the football team. The school accepted the loss of scholarships in 10 sports and the four-year probation term the NCAA announced March 6, but is appealing the loss of victories.

Bowden called the sanctions ''too stiff'' and said he was glad that Florida State is appealing.

''There are different degrees of doing something wrong,'' Bowden said, according to media reports in Florida. "You can go five miles over the speed limit. That's one thing. Or you can go 50 miles over the speed limit, and that's dangerous. ... It just seems like they're killing a flea with a hammer.''

The cheating occurred mainly through online testing for a single music history course in the fall of 2006 and the spring and summer semesters of 2007. It included staffers helping students on the test and in one case asking one athlete to take it for another.

Florida State lost to Kentucky in the 2007 Music City Bowl without two dozen players, including several starters, who had taken the class. Many of the same athletes were also held out of the first three games last fall as part of their punishment.

The NCAA sanction could impact Bowden's standing in the race for the all-time wins record in college football's top division. Currently, Bowden has 382 wins -- one less than Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

But Bowden played down the potential impact on the all-time wins record and pointed out that nine other coaches at Florida State stand to lose victories, too.

''The thing about it is that it is not about me, and that is all I really hear from commentators,'' Bowden said. "This is about all of our coaches and our teams. I think everyone is putting it on my wins. That is just part of it.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.