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Chuck Landon: UCF appeal cheating other C-USA teams

Sep. 19, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

UCF cheats.

That's a fact, not an opinion.

Just ask the NCAA.

That governing body sanctioned UCF with one-year postseason bans for football and men's basketball on July 31, citing the school for major recruiting violations.

An investigation in 2011 found both football and men's basketball had been involved with runners for sports agents and making cash payments to recruits.

Besides the one-year postseason bans, UCF also was fined $50,000, placed on probation for five years, the football team's assistant head coach resigned, the athletic director resigned, basketball scholarships were reduced, basketball wins were vacated and football recruiting visits were limited.

Long story short?

UCF cheated. The Tarnished Knights cheated in football and they cheated in men's basketball. UCF knowingly and willfully cheated.

In fact, UCF already was on NCAA probation for cheating when these new violations were discovered.

That's what UCF does.

It cheats.

Why, I wouldn't be surprised if UCF offers a field of study in cheating (B.S. degree, of course) with a master's program in deceit.

After all, it's what the school is all about.

That's why it comes as no surprise that UCF cheated again on Monday by officially filing an appeal on the NCAA's one-year postseason ban for the Tarnished Knights' football program.

Why appeal?

So, UCF could cheat justice.

A verdict on the appeal won't be rendered until after Jan. 1, 2013. That means despite the NCAA finding UCF guilty of cheating and enacting sanctions that could have been and, perhaps, should have been more stringent, the school is going to dodge its punishment.

At least, temporarily.

UCF will still have the opportunity to compete for the Conference USA East Division title and the league championship. And, yes, the Tarnished Knights will still have a chance to play in the Liberty Bowl, as league champion, or one of C-USA's other top-tier bowls.

Smells, doesn't it?

It also wreaks havoc with C-USA.

UCF is very capable of winning the East, capturing the title and playing in the Liberty Bowl. In the process, another C-USA school that abides by the rules could be denied those opportunities.

It would be cheated out of its just desserts.

So, UCF would be creating more cheating.

Is anybody surprised?

This appeal penalizes the other 11 C-USA members who follow the rules, while rewarding an institution whose only claim to fame is being a chronic cheater.

All because UCF always is looking for a short-cut.

In this case, veteran UCF head football coach George O'Leary believes his team is good enough to win the C-USA championship and capture a Liberty Bowl title. It would be the perfect way to end his coaching career, so UCF president John Hitt decided to give him that chance by filing the appeal.

That's the bottom line.

Will UCF completely avoid the one-year postseason ban? No. The appeal simply will postpone it from the 2012 C-USA football season to UCF's inaugural season as a member of the Big East in 2013.

It's a delay tactic, plain and simple.

But it's still circumventing justice and it's still cheating.

If a school breaks NCAA rules while it's a member of a league, then it should serve its punishment while it's still a member of that league.

UCF did the crime in C-USA, it should serve the time in C-USA.

Anything else is, well, cheating.

Chuck Landon is a columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Call him at 304-526-2827 or email him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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