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Utah Basketball Hit with NCAA Penalties

Jason Scott

The University of Utah men’s basketball program was hit with penalties stemming from a series of recruiting violations, according to a release by the NCAA.

The violations occurred over a weeklong period in April 2018, when an assistant coach, identified as Tommy Connor by the Salt Lake Tribune, misapplied recruiting rules and was engaged in off-campus recruiting activities during a so-called “quiet period.” 

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel found that Connor, Utah’s associate head coach, coordinated with Todd Phillips, who at the time was head coach at Salt Lake Community College, to bring a high school prospect to the city for campus visits to both schools.

The prospect, reported to be Utah sophomore Both Gach, traveled to Salt Lake at the expense of the community college, and visited Utah’s campus on the same trip. The Tribune reports that each school was recruiting the player based on uncertainty about his academic qualifications. 

Utah misinterpreted a rule and believed the visit would be considered “unofficial” from its perspective — but according to the NCAA, Phillips was acting as a Utah booster when he arranged the trip.

“Because he was a booster, the coach’s contact with the prospect and the money spent to bring the prospect to the state and to the university violated NCAA recruiting rules,” the NCAA release reads. “Since the community college paid for the prospect’s visit to the university, the visit was classified as official and caused the university to exceed the number of allowable official visits.”

In addition to the violations caused by the visit, the NCAA found that the program had committed an additional violation when members of the coaching staff observed head coach Larry Krystkowiak’s son, himself a “prospect-aged” athlete, practice with members of the team.

Among the penalties the program received in connection with the case are:

  • Two years of probation
  • A self-imposed $5,000 fine
  • A self-imposed prohibition of off-campus recruiting for all four men’s basketball coaches for a period of five days
  • A self-imposed reduction of in-person recruiting days
  • A self-imposed ban on unofficial visits lasting for three weeks
  • A self-imposed reduction in official visits

Connor himself was hit with a one-year show-cause order, and the university self-imposed penalties with regard to his work, including suspending him for one week and requiring him to attend a regional rules seminar.

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