TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The NCAA has upheld its decision to vacate up to 14 victories from former football coach Bobby Bowden as part of Florida State's penalty in an academic cheating scandal.
Bowden retired as major college football's second most winning coach with 389 wins after Florida State's 33-21 Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia, Jan. 1. Penn State's Joe Paterno, who is still coaching, has 394 wins.
The 80-year-old Bowden was in California on Tuesday to present a Fellowship of Christian Athletes award named after him and not immediately available to comment on the decision.
University officials, however, said they were surprised and disappointed by the NCAA decision.
"We believed that our administration did everything it possibly could to ferret out any and all improprieties in this matter," Florida State athletic director Randy Spetman said.
The NCAA could take wins away in as many as 10 Florida State athletic programs, including possibly stripping Florida State of one of three straight NCAA track championships won between 2006-2008.
The NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee said Tuesday the cooperative efforts of the university in the academic cheating scandal involving 61 Florida State athletes failed to outweigh the aggravating factors in the case.
"The case also included impermissible benefits, unethical conduct by three former academic support services staff members and a failure to monitor by the university," the NCAA statement said.
Twenty five football players were among the athletes who cheated on an online test in a music history course from the fall of 2006 through summer 2007 or received improper help from staffers who provided them with answers to the exam and typed papers for them.
In its appeal, Florida State called the sanctions that included vacating wins "excessive" and claimed the NCAA did not appropriately weigh its cooperation during the investigation. The school agreed to four years of probation and scholarship reductions.
The university still must certify which games ineligible players competed to determine the number of wins and individual records that will be nullified.
"This will take some time," Spetman said. "We didn't believe it was a process we should go through."
The NCAA also rejected an appeal by former Florida State learning specialist Brenda Monk, who has asked that she be absolved of any wrongdoing in the case.