Violations not a mark against Crimson Tide

At 12:01 a.m. on June 10, the University of Alabama went off three years' probation. Sixteen teams were penalized for their involvement in improperly obtained textbooks that would cost the Crimson Tide football program 21 wins from 2005-07. The fine imposed by the NCAA was barely enough to buy a Mercedes-Benz: $43,900.

The 27 self-reported violations revealed on Tuesday aren't a blip on the radar compared to what happened then.

The violations in 2009 involved dollars and cents. Four players were suspended but no scholarships were lost, nor were any bowl games surrendered. It was a slap on the wrist.

The violations from 2011-12 involve nothing more than a slip in common sense: an ill-advised phone call or text, a social media snafu and a poorly placed brochure were among the minor offenses.

The result? Nothing more than a few hours of rules instruction, a letter of admonishment and a couple of coaches being kept away from their cell phones and computers for a few weeks.

The NCAA has enough problems on its hands. Secondary violations don't typically rise up to the level of punishment from collegiate sports' governing body.

As a matter of fact, four of the violations Alabama reported are now permissible under NCAA rules.

The practice of self-reporting violations to the NCAA is nothing new. In May, Ohio State and coach Urban Meyer acknowledged 46 secondary violations spread out among its athletic department. Ole Miss submitted 44 reports of violations. Memphis turned in 24.

If there was a pattern of misbehavior, that would be one thing. What happened at Alabama is not.

When the NCAA laid down the law on Alabama in 2009, it praised the University for its thorough investigation. In the same breath, it labeled Alabama as a "serial repeat offender" for its poor track record with rules infractions.

When Nick Saban arrived, he tried to change the perception. By all accounts, the new-look image has stuck.

"We don't ever want to be on probation," Saban told reporters just before the three-year probation came to an end in June. "We always want to do everything by the rules."

Alabama didn't play by the rules in the past 12 months, but the violations they submitted weren't egregious. The University didn't break the letter of the law and shouldn't be viewed as such.