August 12, 2011
Red Dragons vacate 7 wins from ’09
Inadvertent use of ineligible player led to action; college reported mistake
Though the SUNY Cortland football program reported its own transgression to the NCAA, that mistake will still cost the Red Dragons all seven wins earned during the 2009 season.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Enforcement Staff has ruled the Red Dragons must vacate those victories because the school inadvertently used an ineligible player. The mistake was reported to the NCAA by the college shortly after it was discovered.
“As soon as we realized that a violation had been committed, we contacted the NCAA,” said Cortland Director of Athletics Mike Urtz noted in a Thursday release from the College. “We take full responsibility for our actions and accept the NCAA’s decision. While this is an unfortunate incident for our football program and our athletics department as a whole, we will do everything in our power to help insure that situations like this do not occur in the future.”
The NCAA officially labeled the incident as a secondary violation. The sole penalty consists of changing the Red Dragons’ win-loss record from the 2009 season.
The incident involved a defensive player who played in 2008, then left Cortland to attend another school for the 2009 spring semester. He transferred back to Cortland for the 2009 fall semester and played that autumn.
At the time, the football program and athletics staff were unaware that he did not meet the transfer residency requirement necessary for the reinstatement of his eligibility.
Cortland finished that season with a 7-4 record and appeared in an ECAC Division III Northwest Bowl, losing to St. John Fisher. The 2009 season’s win-loss record will officially be changed to 0-4 and the bowl game will not be counted as part of the program’s postseason history.
By virtue of the games being vacated instead of forfeited, the results will not be changed in Cortland’s opponents’ records. The seven victories will be removed from Cortland’s records, including head coach Dan MacNeill’s overall record.
Individual records and statistics from those games, however, will remain intact, other than those of the ineligible player.
The ruling will have no impact on SUNY Cortland’s 2011 football season, pre-season practice scheduled to get underway on Saturday. The Red Dragons host Buffalo State in a 1 p.m. season opener on Saturday, Sept. 3.
Poll Respect for Dragons
After earning a share of the New Jersey Athletic Conference title and winning a first round NCAA Division III tournament contest last year, the Red Dragons have earned some preseason accolades coming off that sparkling 10-2 campaign.
Cortland is ranked ninth by Lindy’s, 13th by D3football.com and 21st by The Sporting News in those respective preseason polls. The Red Dragons return 15 starters from a year ago.
Cortland, Montclair and Rowan all finished with 8-1 league records last year to share first place, and are the top-three teams in the NJAC preseason polling of conference coaches. Montclair is the preseason favorite and received a handful of first-place votes. Cortland is ranked second while being picked first by four coaches, while Rowan is ranked third and earned a lone top vote.
Dragon Captains Named
Graduate student and returning starting quarterback Dan Pitcher, senior offensive lineman Billy Castro and senior linebacker/fullback Bill Smith have been selected as Cortland team captains this fall.
Cortland High graduate Pitcher, a captain for the third straight season, was a first team All-NJAC selection last year. He completed 157-of-279 passes for 1,757 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Castro, from Washingtonville, was an honorable mention D3football.com All-American and a first team All-NJAC honoree last year. He moved from offensive guard to offensive tackle last season and is expected to be a tackle this fall.
Smith, from Nanuet, earned All-NJAC honors on both sides of the line of scrimmage last season – he was a second team linebacker and an honorable mention fullback. He finished second on the team with 79 tackles.
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