Two Baylor University assistant football coaches exceeded the number of allowable recruiting evaluations for two prospects and had impermissible contact with one of the prospects, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel. A third assistant football coach attended a game of a future opponent, which was prohibited off-campus scouting.
The panel adopted the university’s self-imposed penalties, including recruiting restrictions, a one-game suspension for two of the assistant coaches and a half-game suspension for the third assistant coach.
Despite receiving education about recruiting rules, two assistant football coaches tried to find a loophole in the rules to allow them to be seen more by prospects in the spring. During one compliance session, a coach asked if the staff could attend a track meet and turn their backs when the prospect they wanted to be seen by was competing so the coaches could avoid having to log an evaluation for that prospect. Although the compliance office stated this would be allowable, the panel noted that counsel was ill-advised at best. It further noted that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a school to monitor when, or if, a coach attending a track meet looks down or turns away from a certain event to avoid evaluations of a prospect.
“It is disappointing that the university’s coaching staff was more interested in finding loopholes to exploit the rules instead of trying to follow the rules,” said Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer for the panel and athletics director at Xavier University. “The assistant coaches could have easily avoided these violations if their focus had been following the rules rather than finding ways around them.”
After receiving the guidance from compliance, the two assistant coaches attended track meets during the spring of 2015 and positioned themselves where contact with prospects was possible. Schools are limited to two evaluations per prospect in the spring evaluation period, so the three evaluations with one prospect and four evaluations with another violated NCAA rules.
In attending the prospects’ track meets, the panel stated the assistant coaches were trying to show the prospects they were important to the university, and because of the impermissible evaluations, the university gained an advantage over other schools that were following the recruiting rules.
This infractions case is limited to recruiting violations in the football program. The panel has not considered any additional information related to the university’s football program. The NCAA will not comment beyond the facts in the present infractions case.
“The penalties in this case are consistent with the penalty ranges established in our guidelines,” said Christopher. “After we reviewed facts of the case, we determined a fine plus the self-imposed recruiting penalties appropriately addressed the violations and the advantage received because of the impermissible recruiting.”
Penalties and corrective actions adopted by the panel include:
- A $5,000 fine.
- The football staff stopped recruiting one of the prospects for eight weeks (self-imposed by the university).
- The football staff stopped recruiting at track and field meets (self-imposed by the university).
- The two assistant coaches who exceeded evaluations were suspended for one game during the 2015-16 season (self-imposed by the university).
- The assistant coach who attended the future competitor’s game was suspended from the first half of one game during the 2015-16 season (self-imposed by the university).
- The two assistant coaches who exceeded evaluations were prohibited from off-campus recruiting for 12 weeks during the fall 2015 evaluation period (self-imposed by the university).
Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from NCAA membership and members of the public. In addition to Christopher, the members of the panel who reviewed this case are Michael F. Adams, chancellor, Pepperdine University; Carol Cartwright, president emeritus at Kent State University; Bobby Cremins, former head men’s basketball coach at Georgia Tech; Alberto Gonzales, dean of the law school at Belmont University and former attorney general of the United States; Joseph Novak, former head football coach at Northern Illinois University; Gregory Sankey, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner for the Southeastern Conference.