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UTEP, Youngstown State Football Hit With Violations

Brock Fritz

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions announced Tuesday that the Youngstown State football program, the UTEP football program and the UTEP softball program committed violations.

The NCAA found that Youngstown State failed to monitor its football program. The infraction stemmed from an assistant coach having 41 impermissible contacts with a prospect that was enrolled at a Division II university, as well as former head coach Bo Pelini and two assistants recruiting off-campus without completing the coaches certification test.

The NCAA said there was an agreement between enforcement staff, the university and the assistant coach. The agreement found that the prospect mistakenly informed the coach that he was in the NCAA Transfer Portal. He had requested his athletics department compliance office at the Division II school add him to the portal, but the school wasn’t required to because Division II and Division I didn’t have the same transfer rules.

By not taking the 2019-20 coaches certification test, Pelini and two of his assistants made impermissible contacts with 16 prospects and impermissible evaluations of two other prospects. The school had sent email reminders to the coaches, but the university and enforcement staff reportedly agreed that the school failed to monitor the football program. The organizations agreed to levy Level II-standard penalties for the university and Level II-mitigated penalties for the assistant coach.

The penalties include two years of probation, a $5,000 fine, a reduction of football official visits by three during the 2021-22 academic year, a two-week ban on unofficial visits during the 2020-21 academic year, a two-week ban on all recruiting communication during the 2020-21 academic year, a reduction of football evaluation days by three during the 2021-22 academic year, the assistant coach being suspended from all coaching duties during three preseason football dates, an the assistant coach being banned from recruiting activities from Feb. 13-26, 2021.

The NCAA also announced that UTEP, former UTEP softball coach Tobin Echo-Hawk and enforcement staff agreed that Echo-Hawk provided additional practice time or individual workouts exceeding daily and weekly hour limitations, and failed to provide a mandatory weekly day off. The program also exceeded the maximum allowable countable coaches in at least four separate years by allowing graduate assistants to provide skills instruction. Therefore, the agreement found that Echo-Hawk didn’t promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The university, head football coach Dana Dimel and enforcement staff also agreed that noncoaching football staff members engaged in coaching activities, exceeding the maximum allowable countable coaches in 2018-19 and 2019-20. The agreement found that Dimel was responsible for the violations because he didn’t monitor his staff.

UTEP received Level II-mitigated penalties, while Echo-Hawk and Dimel received Level-II standard penalties. The penalties included:

  • One year of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the former softball head coach, including a four-week suspension from all coaching activities and a suspension from 15% of regular- season contests at any school that employs her.
  • A one-year show-cause order for the football head coach, including a four-day suspension from all coaching activities and a 10-day suspension from off-campus recruiting during the 2020-21 football contact period.
  • A reduction in permissible countable athletically related activities hours in softball from 20 to 18 during the regular season and from eight to seven during the off-season during the 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of softball countable coaches by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.
  • A reduction in the number of football countable coaches by one for six days of practice during the 2021-22 academic year.
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