NCAA Rejects LSU Football Coach's Appeal of Recruiting Violations

Ncaa Disk

The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee affirmed the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions' finding that the former LSU assistant football coach violated recruiting rules when he conducted off-campus recruiting visits during the COVID-19 dead period and provided impermissible recruiting inducements.

On Sept. 22, 2022, the Committee on Infractions issued its decision finding certain violations in the LSU football program and prescribing Level II-Aggravated penalties against the former assistant coach. The former assistant coach appealed the decision, asserting that the violation of impermissible recruiting contacts and inducements was contrary to the evidence presented and facts found by the Committee on Infractions. Additionally, the former assistant coach asserted that the prescription of a three-year show-cause order penalty was an abuse of discretion.

The former assistant coach argued that the encounters with the prospect and his family were not prearranged and thus not contacts because they were initiated by prospect 1's mother and occurred just minutes after he received the phone calls.

The Infractions Appeals Committee noted that according to NCAA rules, prearrangement includes circumstances where a staff member took a position in a location where contact with the prospective student-athlete is possible. In this case, the former assistant coach told prospect 1's mother that he would be in his neighborhood in his golf cart, provided her turn-by-turn directions to his location, and gathered used athletic gear and took it with him as he drove his golf cart around the neighborhood to connect with prospect 1 and his family. On a second occasion, the former assistant coach had a conversation with prospect 1's mother on the telephone and stood outside his house until the family arrived at his home.

The committee stated that the finding of the violation was not contrary to the evidence presented because the former assistant coach intentionally provided athletic gear and the in-person contacts with the prospective student-athletes were prearranged. Further, the in-person contacts during the COVID-19 dead period undermined the membership's critical health, safety and fairness objectives for implementing the dead period.

Therefore, the committee affirmed the finding of violation and the Level II-Aggravated classification. The committee also determined that the former assistant coach failed to demonstrate that the prescription of the three-year show-cause penalty was an abuse of discretion.

The members of the Infractions Appeals Committee who heard this case were Jonathan Alger, president at James Madison; Alejandra Montenegro Almonte, attorney in private practice; Ellen M. Ferris, senior associate commissioner for governance and compliance at the American Athletic Conference; Tom Goss, insurance chairman and executive; and Julie Vannatta, retired senior associate general counsel for athletics/senior associate athletics director at Ohio State. 

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