The University of Central Florida received some good news at one of the most perfect times possible.
The Golden Knights won an appeal with the NCAA and its football team will be eligible for the postseason in 2013, their first as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
After playing for the Conference USA championship in 2012, the Golden Knights will now have the opportunity to play for a conference championship again in 2013.
This year, of course, Central Florida can play for a trip to a big-money BCS bowl game. This is exactly the way to enter a new conference and set a tone for a new era in program history.
"We are pleased with this ruling and applaud the NCAA for handling our appeal with care, competency and professionalism," UCF President John C. Hitt said. "Our football program looks forward to competing for an American Athletic Conference championship and a bowl berth."
Central Florida was investigated by the NCAA for recruiting violations related to the football and men's basketball programs. The school accepted all the imposed sanctions, including a five-year probation period, but formally appealed for a lift of a one-year postseason ban for football.
Such an appeal could have been costly for the program and school if the NCAA ruled against them, but they were fortunate to have a solid enough case for appeal.
“With the appeal process behind us, we’re ready to move forward," Vice President and Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury said. "Our first season in the American Athletic Conference, including the opportunity to play in a bowl game, is right around the corner. It’s an exciting time for the Knights."
Louisville remains the team to beat in the American this season. With the departures of Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC this season, the American is left with five football members that were eligible for postseason play in 2012 (Louisville, Cincinnati, Rutgers, SMU and Central Florida). Losing Central Florida could have left the conference with just four potential bowl participants in 2013.
All quotes were provided by the University of Central Florida Athletics via email.