- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (AP) - Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden believes the NCAA sanctions calling for the school to give up wins in 10 different sports are too harsh.

Bowden, 79, said he supports the decision by Florida State president T.K. Wetherell to challenge the NCAA’s ruling to vacate the victories in the wake of an academic cheating scandal. The forfeits could include as many as 14 in football.

“It was too stiff,” said Bowden in a university statement, commenting for the first time Wednesday night on the penalties announced March 6. “Does the punishment fit the crime? I think that’s the thing, that’s the thing we gotta find the answer to right there.”

Bowden’s 382 career wins are just one fewer than all-team major college leader Joe Paterno of Penn State.

The academic cheating involved 61 athletes in all 10 sports at Florida State. Sanctions resulted from papers being written for and test answers provided to athletes who took an online music history class in 2006 and 2007. Florida State reported the cheating to the NCAA once it learned of the problem.

The school accepted the loss of scholarships in 10 sports and a four-year probation.

However, Wetherell announced Tuesday that the university hired outside counsel to appeal the part of an NCAA punishment to strip it of victories, calling them “excessive and inappropriate.” He said it was unfair to roughly 500 athletes and 52 coaches who had nothing to do with the cheating.

Bowden said there’s been too much focus about his coaching record.

“I think everybody is putting everything on my wins, which is just part of it,” Bowden said. “All I hear from commentators is ‘Bobby Bowden this’ and ‘Bobby Bowden that.’ It is about all of our coaches and our teams.”

Bowden has won two national championships since becoming Florida State’s coach in 1976.

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