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Florida State keeping 36 players home from Music City Bowl

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Thirty-six Florida State players won't
be going to the Dec. 31 Music City Bowl against Kentucky because of
an academic cheating scandal, violations of team rules, injuries or
other reasons.
Linebacker Dekoda Watson, cornerback Patrick Robinson, who had
six interceptions, and three top defensive tackles were among the
players sidelined either as a result of the ongoing investigation
into an academic cheating scandal at the school or some other
violation of team rules.
"It is very important that the media make clear that those
missing the bowl trip are not included because of either injury or
for a violation of team policy," associate athletic director Rob
Wilson said in a statement accompanying the travel list. "It would
be irresponsible to imply or state that any or all of the
student-athletes will miss the trip for one particular reason."
The total number of players not going to the game was determined
by comparing the travel list with the roster provided by the
university. That figure, however, was disputed by Wilson, who said
up to 10 walk-ons would have stayed home regardless.
The school announced earlier this week that as many as 25
players might be affected by its ongoing investigation of academic
wrongdoing by the athletes. It didn't identify which students.
A violation of team rules could range from poor class attendance
to a run-in with the law or failing a drug test, among many other
things.
The Florida State roster was so thinned by the academic scandal
that the team had room for 17 players on the traveling party who
are either redshirt freshmen or athletes who suffered season-ending
or career-ending injuries this season. Only 43 scholarship players
are available to coach Bobby Bowden for the game.
Junior quarterback Xavier Lee, who started three games for the
Seminoles, was among offensive players not traveling. The offensive
line was also hit hard with tight ends Caz Piurowski and Charlie
Graham, offensive tackle Daron Rose and guard Jackie Claude not
making the trip.
The absence of defensive tackles Letroy Guion, Budd Thacker and
Paul Griffin, linebacker Marcus Ball and defensive ends Neefy
Moffett and Justin Mincey could lead to a big day for Kentucky
quarterback Andre Woodson.
The team's top two tacklers - linebackers Derek Nicholson and
Geno Hayes - will play.
And while Florida State usually has a couple of casualties after
the first semester, never has a Bowden-coached team limped off to
postseason play without this many players.
"You have 22 positions out there and some you'd be more
concerned about than others," Bowden said following Friday's
practice. "I think we've gotten everything we could out of it."
The Seminoles, who will match 7-5 season records with Kentucky,
will have most of their key skill players. Quarterback Drew
Weatherford, tailback-receiver Preston Parker and wide receiver
Greg Carr were healthy and unscathed by the sanctions.
Thirteen of the names missing from the travel list had started
games this season for Florida State. Eleven of the players not
traveling were non-scholarship athletes.
Meanwhile, former Florida State athletic director David Hart Jr.
rebutted part of Florida State President T.K. Wetherell's statement
Friday that could have implied that the scandal led to Hart's
leaving the university a year before his contract expired.
"There's no connection there," Hart said Saturday. "I can
assure you that my separation from Florida State had absolutely
nothing to do with this current review of academic misconduct. To
even suggest otherwise would be irresponsible."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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