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FSU coach Bobby Bowden:: Marc Serota/Getty Images

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State president T.K. Wetherell will leave office at some point in the next few months. Before he leaves, he hopes he can convince the NCAA to restore the 14 wins it took away from Coach Bobby Bowden as part of FSU's punishment for an academic scandal.

In an interview with on Monday before the Seminoles faced Miami, Wetherell said FSU officials worked "arm-in-arm" with NCAA officials to investigate cheating in an online music course from 2006-07. Wetherell said FSU and the NCAA made a deal. FSU officials would convince the 61 athletes involved to give up their right to due process and accept a predetermined penalty, the NCAA would hand down a penalty that would take away scholarships and place the athletic program on probation. The NCAA broke that deal, Wetherell said.

"What became unacceptable was when they threw something else in the deal after it was over," Wetherell said. "I don't want to call it a bait-and-switch, but…"

That "something else" was the order that the teams in the 10 affected sports would vacate wins dating back to the first instance of cheating - not back to when FSU discovered the cheating and opened an investigation. In the process, Florida State's men's track team was forced to vacate its 2007 national title, and Bowden - who was locked in a race with Penn State's Joe Paterno for the Division I-A all-time wins record - was docked 14 wins.

Asked whether he wishes now that the school had handled the situation differently, Wetherell laughed. "When you start looking back," Wetherell said, "would we have been better off letting 61 kids get 61 lawyers? … We would never have an answer today."

Complicating matters is a lawsuit filed by several media outlets against the NCAA and Florida State asking the school to produce documents relating to the investigation. Florida State countersued the NCAA, contending that the documents are public records under Florida law. Florida attorney general Bill McCollum has filed an amicus brief supporting the media outlets and Florida State against the NCAA, which contends that making documents available in response to public record request would essentially strip the NCAA of any enforcement power because it could not promise anonymity to anyone who provided information.

Last month, a Tallahassee judge ruled the documents are public records. Last week, another judge blocked the release while the NCAA prepares its appeal. The appeal is due Sept. 21. "Ultimately, I think we'll prevail," McCollum said Monday. "The bottom line of the case is that the moment a university receives records from the NCAA and those records are used in defense of a matter before the NCAA, then those records are public records under Florida law - and under the laws of a great many states with universities that the NCAA regulates."

Wetherell said he doesn't think the suit - which has caused the NCAA great consternation and cost quite a bit of money - will poison the well as FSU appeals the vacation of wins penalty. FSU officials will orally argue their appeal before the NCAA's committee on infractions on Nov. 15. Wetherell, who will remain in office until a successor is found, said he hopes the committee will honor the deal he believes NCAA officials made with FSU officials during the investigation.

"We don't enjoy fighting the NCAA," Wetherell said. "We've got better things to do. I'm spending too much money doing this."


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