FSU’s Bowden plans to fight NCAA ruling to vacate 14 victories

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, July 15, 2009

FLORENCE, Ala. — Florida State coach Bobby Bowden isn’t ready to give back those wins the NCAA wants to remove from his record due to an academic cheating scandal.

The 79-year-old Seminoles Bowden said Tuesday he still hopes the NCAA-vacated wins will be restored after a university appeal, keeping his race with Penn State’s Joe Paterno going.

Paterno’s 383 wins is currently one more than Bowden.

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‘‘Of course, I’m hoping to win that appeal. I’ve been coaching 55 years and I never have been involved in cheating,’’ said Bowden, seated next to his three coaching sons at the University of North Alabama. ‘‘Here I’ve done nothing and I’m going to lose 14 ball games. It doesn’t seem right, but it could happen. And I won’t cut my wrists if that doesn’t happen. There are more important things in life.

‘‘But I do hope that they rethink that like they did with Oklahoma and Georgia Tech (in recent years), where they first said they were going to take away wins and they changed their minds.’’

The NCAA said 61 Seminole athletes 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.

The university has appealed, arguing that stripping the school, its coaches and athletes of victories in several sports is too harsh.

Bowden spoke about the prospect of losing the wins during ‘‘A Day With the Bowdens’’ Tuesday at North Alabama, where son Terry is approaching his first season as football coach. Terry, Tommy and UNA associate head coach Jeff Bowden hosted a prayer breakfast and seminars with teenagers and adults.

The NCAA vacating 14 Bowden wins is not the way Paterno wants the chase for the winningest coach status to end.

‘‘The NCAA is going to do what it’s going to do, but I would hope they would not take away 10 or 12 wins away from him,’’ Paterno told the Reading Eagle in Pennsylvania. ‘‘I don’t think that’s fair. He coached the team he had; they played against people, and they won. They ought to be wins for them.’’