After months of appeals, wrangling over public records laws and the usual backbiting between the university and the NCAA, an appellate court finally gave Florida State the go-ahead Wednesday to release a 695-page transcript of its Oct. 18, 2008 hearing before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions, testimony from which was used to smack multiple sports at FSU in March with probation, minor scholarship restrictions and -- most notably in light of Bobby Bowden's quixotic pursuit of the career wins record -- vacated wins for playing ineligible players later accused of cheating in an online course ("Musical Cultures of the World") in 2006 and 2007. The transcript didn't tell us a whole lot we didn't already know. (Although it is, like, 700 pages long, so a few people are still reading.)
The news is probably more notable for public records scholars -- the NCAA infractions process is a notoriously secretive ordeal, and it fought tooth-and-nail to keep it that way -- than football fans, but the released documents did shed some light on a few specific details of the Florida State's violations, and of the school's subsequent investigation and defense, most of it painting "an unflattering portrait of Florida State’s professors and administrators," according to the New York Times. But certainly not nearly as unflattering as the portrait it painted of some of FSU's players, academically speaking, or the stops pulled out on their behalf by (to use FSU president T.K. Wetherell's term) a "rogue tutor":
Brenda Monk, a learning specialist hired to work with athletes who had learning and physical disabilities, was accused of improperly helping students type, edit and write their papers. Monk, who testified that some of those athletes had a second-grade reading level, was accused of committing academic fraud. In one case, she was said to have let students use a study guide that had answers to exam questions for an online music course.
Monk has left the university and filed a defamation suit against Florida State.
In their defense, second-graders are very advanced these days, what with the Baby Einstein and secret genetic engineering programs Congress slipped into an appropriations bill; some of the contemporary seven-year-old's favorite television shows also captivate the Miami Hurricanes. (And vicious, highly educated commenters, please, consider how the unusually high clusters of "criminal justice" and "recreational administration" majors on your own squad might fare by the same standard before you hit that spittle-flecked 'return' key.)
We can still assume that every Seminole at least knows how to count to 14, which remains the relevant number: As it stands, FSU still has to wipe 14 victories from Bowden's career total, a fate that may actually be looking more and more attractive to him -- if you remove those wins from the 2006-07 seasons, the unfolding disaster in 2009 suddenly looks like an improvement.