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Sacramento State football program violates NCAA rules

Download the California State University, Sacramento public infractions decision

California State University, Sacramento’s football program committed violations including failure to follow the school’s substance abuse policy, impermissible recruiting by a former assistant coach and non-voluntary summer activities, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. Additionally, the former head football coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance and was responsible for violations that occurred in his program. 

Penalties in the case include a one-year probationary period; self-imposed scholarship, recruiting and countable activity reductions; and show-cause orders for the former head coach and former assistant coach. During the show-cause periods, if either former coach is employed at an NCAA member school, the former assistant coach’s recruiting activities must be restricted and the former head coach must complete a suspension. If a school does not agree to those terms, the coach and the school must appear before the Committee on Infractions. 

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, the university and any participating involved individuals must agree to the facts of the case in order for this process to be utilized instead of having a formal hearing.

The former assistant coach violated NCAA recruiting rules for more than four years when he engaged in impermissible in-person, off-campus contacts and impermissible phone contacts. After visiting a number of high schools in 2012 and 2013, the former assistant coach documented the interactions in 2012 and provided a write-up to the former head coach. The former assistant coach acknowledged that he knew when contacting recruits that the calls and texts placed were against NCAA rules, but he continued in an attempt to “keep up” with other schools.

The football program violated voluntary athletically related activity rules during the summers of 2010 through 2014 when it required student-athletes to attend workouts. Coaches took attendance, occasionally gave penalties for nonparticipation or late arrivals and the head coach recognized student-athletes for their participation. The former head coach knew of, and at times, participated in activities that exceeded the limitations of voluntary summer activity.

The former head coach agreed that he is responsible for the violations that occurred in his program because he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his assistant coach. He acknowledged he could have provided better rules education to his program. Further, he did not report the former assistant coach’s impermissible recruiting contacts and knew of and participated in the impermissible non-voluntary summer activities.

Additionally, during the 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2013-14 years, the school failed to follow its substance abuse policy when six football student-athletes were allowed to compete without being subject disciplinary measures required by the school's policy after testing positive for banned substances. The school’s policy required a 10 percent suspension from regular season competition following a positive drug test and a suspension and cancellation of athletics aid for one year for a second positive test.  NCAA rules require a school to follow its written drug testing policy and disciplinary measures when student-athletes test positive for banned substances.

Penalties and corrective measures include:                                     

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • One year of probation from Nov. 4, 2015, through Nov. 3, 2016.
  • Three-year show-cause order for the former head coach from Nov. 4, 2015, through Nov. 3, 2018. During that period, should he become employed in an athletics position at an NCAA school, the employing school and coach must appear before the Committee on Infractions and he must be suspended from 30 percent of one season.
  • Two-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach from Nov. 4, 2015, through Nov. 3, 2017. During that period, the employing school and coach must appear before the Committee on Infractions and the school must restrict his recruiting activities.
  • A $5,000 fine.

Self-imposed penalties by the school:

  • A reduction in football initial counter limits by two to 28 for 2014-15 and 2015-16.
  • A reduction of football financial aid awards by one for 2014-15 and 2015-16.
  • The former head coach and former assistant coach were prohibited from recruiting off campus in April and May of the spring 2014 evaluation period.
  • The football program was prohibited from recruiting off-campus during the bye weeks in the fall of 2014 and 2015.
  • A reduction in the number of days for the spring 2014 evaluation period by 20 percent to 65 days.
  • During 2014 and 2015, the school could not require participation in summer workouts by student-athletes in summer school.
  • Fall 2014 and spring 2015 football countable activity was reduced by two hours per week.

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Britton Banowsky, executive director of the College Football Playoff Foundation; Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State University; Melissa Conboy, chief hearing officer and deputy director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame; Bobby Cremins, former head men's basketball coach at Georgia Institute of Technology; Alberto Gonzales, former attorney general of the United States; Joe Novak, former head football coach at Northern Illinois University; and Jill Pilgrim, attorney in private practice.