Breaking news out of Tallahassee suggests that Florida State University may voluntarily forfeit or be stripped of the BCS title the Seminoles won by defeating the Auburn Tigers in the BCS Title game held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, on 6 January 2014. The game itself turned into a captivating contest which saw the heavily favored Seminoles overcome an 18 point deficit to defeat the Auburn Tigers 34 to 31 on a 2 yard touchdown pass from Heisman Trophy Winner Jameis Winston to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining following an 80 yard touchdown drive with only 1:18 on the game clock. Before being award the Heisman Trophy, the redshirt freshman Winston had been the subject of media attention concerning an alleged rape in 2012. Criminal charges were not brought forth, and Winston became the 2nd freshman to win the prestigious award before quarterbacking the team in its title game victory. While many Seminole fans waited in angst concerning the possibility of repercussions against their freshman signal caller, the fate of the final BCS Championship rests in murkier waters of possible NCAA rules infractions.
NCAA President Mark A. Emmert did not release any statements concerning the investigation. Florida State University President Eric J. Barton, Director of Athletics Stan Wilcox, and Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher have yet to release any statements. While players have reportedly been using Twitter and other social media to voice concerns, nothing from the Seminole players has addressed this investigation.
Reliable sources, however, who are not connected with the university, football team, or NCAA have confirmed that Florida State may have violated specific NCAA rules in the previous 18 months. Eight (8) of the alleged infractions concern procedures outlined in the Guide for College Bound Student Athletes while two (2) concern the Amateurism Certification Process. Other potential violations noted by these reliable sources regard aspects of Rule 9, Section 2, Article 4 of the NCAA Football 2013 and 2014 Rules and Interpretations.
Sources connected to the NCAA and specifically to the office of Mark Emmert have neither confirmed nor denied the investigation. A source with an unsubstantiated association with Coach Jimbo Fisher has suggested that all players have been placed under a gag order to not discuss their communications with NCAA investigators.
College football fans, students, and alumni of Florida State University and member schools of the Atlantic Coast Conference appear stunned by these revelations. While the potential rules infractions have not been mentioned as a cause, Florida State University football is already undergoing changes as both ESPN and Sports Illustrated have confirmed that star Defensive Tackle Timmy Jernigan and Wide Receiver Kelvin Benjamin who caught the game winning touchdown pass from Winston will not return to the team next season.
Will repercussions expand beyond the University and the ACC? Will these alleged infractions change Division I NCAA football? Most experts have asserted that they believe the BCS system which this writer has often questioned will not last beyond this season.
We will have more on the possibility of this alleged investigation of unsubstantiated violations as time permits.