Wikipedia:WikiProject College football/Vacated victories

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The NCAA and the NAIA are empowered to impose a variety of sanctions upon schools that violate their organization's rules on athletic eligibility. One such tool is the vacation of wins gained by a school during a period of ineligibility. This essay is written toward the NCAA's application of the concept of vacated wins, but can also operationally apply to NAIA vacated wins.

The NCAA prescribes different treatment for vacated wins or contests depending on whether the affected match was a regular season game or took place during a tournament or bowl. In most cases, the win is stricken from the penalized team's official record, but the opponent retains the associated loss. This asymmetric treatment results in certain anomalies in affected teams' records. The essay undertakes to describe the NCAA's policies on the treatment of vacated wins and to set forth a consistent and appropriate approach in Wikipedia articles containing statistics that are affected by the vacation of wins by the NCAA.[nb 1]

In addition, the NCAA maintains only a limited number of "official" records and thus its formal policy on vacated wins offers little or no guidance on how such vacated wins should be reflected in a variety of other common but "unofficial" statistics that derive from teams' official wins and losses, such as series records between individual teams. The essay thus also surveys sources addressing those issues to arrive at a consistent treatment of these derivative and "unofficial" statistics, which treatment should also be reflected in Wikipedia articles.

In general, the official NCAA record should be shown in the penalized team's season article, with asterisks used to briefly explain the record and to permit the reader to determine the team's original, historical record. The article about the school's athletic program should include a section on the vacated wins, which should be linked to whenever possible in lieu of extensive explanation at the bottom of every section. The season and lifetime records of the coach of the penalized team should be similarly modified and annotated. By and large the record of the opposing team in regular season play will be unaffected; however, the NCAA does not track, and has no policy, on the treatment of various derivative statistics such as series records. Where series records are displayed, they should exclude the game altogether, rather than be listed from the points of view of each of the two teams.

Articles describing affected matches written before the imposition of sanctions (assuming that they are otherwise consistent with Wikipedia policy) should remain largely unchanged. This NCAA revises results, not history, and this essay only undertakes to describe how such games should be reflected in the numerical tally of the win-loss and other records of the affected teams and coaches.

NCAA policy on forfeits and vacancies[edit]


The NCAA has promulgated a formal policy on forfeits and vacancies. The policy describes the differences between the two sanctions, and how records of affected schools should be revised when such sanctions are imposed. In addition, the NCAA policy explicitly states that the NCAA will not change official records until a penalty has been ruled on by the NCAA Committee on Infractions.[1]

In the case of a forfeit, the penalized team's win becomes a loss and the opponent's loss is changed to a win. In the words of the NCAA, "This affects season records, all-time records and coaches' records, and should be changed whenever and wherever these records are referred. Except for any student-athletes declared ineligible, the individual statistics are not affected by this action."[1] The treatment of forfeits is straightforward and symmetrical and is easily noted in reports of official records. Accordingly, other than urging editors to ensure that forfeited matches are properly noted where pertinent (for example, the policy includes "forfeit scores" to be recorded in each sport), forfeits are not discussed herein. Vacancies, however, may be reflected in the official records in a variety of ways.[nb 2]

Regular season vacancies[edit]

In the case of regular season games, the penalized team's win is removed from its official NCAA record. The losing team, however, retains the loss, and individual statistics resulting from the subject game(s) are not affected other than for players declared specifically ineligible.[1][2] These changes affect the penalized team's season records, all-time records and coaches' records. Thus for example, a team that was 10-2 during a season in which it fielded ineligible players would have its record revised to 0-2. Any team or coach streaks (e.g. wins, postseason appearances, team statistical streaks) are terminated. The NCAA prescribes that all records that are changed should be asterisked with the footnote stating something to the effect of “Later vacated by NCAA action.”

Tournament vacancies[edit]

In the case of tournament games, the entire match result is vacated and the win and the corresponding loss are both removed from the two teams' records. Championships and honors earned by reason of the vacated wins are stricken from the penalized team's record. Again, except for specifically ineligible players, individual statistics will remain unaffected. However, any individual tournament honors earned by players will be vacated along with the match(es).[1]

Anomalies and their resolution[edit]

By striking the win but not the corresponding loss in official records relating to regular season games, the NCAA policy results in a variety of anomalies, such as games of record that have losers but not winners, and series records between individual teams that differ depending on the team from whose perspective the series is described (the penalized team's all-time record not reflecting games that still appear in the opponent's).[3]

The NCAA does not officially track series win-loss records, and has no policy for the treatment of vacated victories in such records. However, in 2009, at least three media reports discussing NCAA sanctions against the Alabama Crimson Tide football program stated that games with vacated wins are not counted at all in a series record between 2 teams.[4][5][6] While two of these reports are of uncertain reliability and do not establish or reflect an official NCAA position on the question, they are consistent with one another and thus as of the time of this essay would appear to reflect a consensus about how to reflect vacated wins in head-to-head series records. Omitting the game entirely in series records will not reflect the won-lost series records of either of the individual teams separately, and the method cannot be squared with the NCAA's express policy that only the win, and not the loss, is stricken. Nevertheless, under the NCAA's asymmetrical method of recording vacated wins, inconsistencies cannot be avoided altogether and it is the consensus of the editors that treating "vacated wins" as wholly "vacated contests" for purposes of series records, when properly annotated, is cleaner, more concise and more easily understood than posting separate series records from each team's point of view; and that, barring contradictory statements from the NCAA or other reliable sources, series records should be reflected in that fashion.

Editorial guidelines[edit]

Won-lost records and other titles or honors described in Wikipedia articles reflecting the results of NCAA-sanctioned athletic contests should in the first instance reflect official NCAA records. Such records include season-by-season and all time won-lost records for a given team; season-by-season and won-lost records of a team's head coach or coaches; tournament and bowl game results; and conference championships. Thus whenever the NCAA Committee on Infractions sanctions a team by requiring the team to forfeit or vacate one or more wins, any such records described in Wikipedia articles should be amended to reflect the new official record. The amended records should be annotated with a note giving a clear indication that the stated figures do not include the wins (or losses, where appropriate) vacated by the NCAA. Furthermore, at least one annotation in the article should indicate the number of contests affected, the relevant year(s), and should wikilink to any Wikipedia articles that describe the circumstances of the sanction.

As noted, the NCAA does not officially track head-to-head records of individual teams. In keeping with the loose consensus that appears to be developing outside the NCAA on the treatment of such tallies, series won-lost records between two teams should be reported as a single W-L-T report from the point of view of the series leader, with both the win and corresponding loss of the affected game(s) omitted, along with a notation stating that the record "omits __ games vacated by the NCAA". The notation should be accompanied by a concise footnote indicating generally what results are omitted and what the record would be absent the sanction.

These issues are somewhat obscure, and the resolution set forth herein is not altogether obvious (particularly in light of the NCAA's incomplete treatment of the issue). Accordingly, whenever an article is amended to reflect changes in official or other records described in this essay, at least one of the notes or annotations to the changed statistics should link to this essay to permit other editors to understand the rationale behind the edits.

Finally, nothing in this essay is intended to require revision or removal of articles describing the contests or the original, historical results, except that such articles properly should note that the recorded win was later vacated. Similarly, bowl or tournament appearances that were vacated are not removed from infoboxes; any appearances should remain but with a footnote about the vacation.


  1. ^ The essay in large measure summarizes information gathered and points made in discussions at Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_College_football/Archive_9#Dealing_with_vacated_awards.2C_records_and_wins and Talk:Michigan–Ohio_State_football_rivalry#OSU_vacated_victories_.28July_2011.29.
  2. ^ It can be helpful in discussing the various effects of vacation to distinguish "vacated wins" (the penalized team surrenders the win but the loss remains on the opponent's record) and vacated "games" or "contests" in which the game is stricken from the won-loss records of both teams. The NCAA's statement of policy does not describe this distinction, using "vacancy" to apply to either circumstance, but the phrases are useful shorthand and will be employed herein.


  1. ^ a b c d 2011-12 NCAA Statistics Policies (updated 11/15/2011) (PDF), NCAA, retrieved 2012-07-24 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Low, Chris (June 16, 2009). "What does vacating wins really mean?". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  5. ^ Paschall, David (June 16, 2009). "Rolled back: Tide below .500 for 2000s". Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. Retrieved July 9, 2011. 
  6. ^ Taylor, John (July 4, 2009). "Vacated Wins Do Not Equal Forfeits". NBC Sports. Retrieved July 9, 2011.