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Utah men’s basketball program commits recruiting violations

Head coach violated responsibility rules, committee finds

Download the University of Utah Public Infractions Decision

The Utah men’s basketball program conducted impermissible recruiting activities and the head coach failed to meet his responsibility to monitor his staff and promote rules compliance, according to a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.

The recruiting violations occurred over a seven-day period in April 2018. According to the committee, an assistant coach misapplied recruiting rules and believed off-campus recruiting activities were allowed during a quiet period. Acting on the misunderstanding, the committee said the assistant coach conducted an evaluation of a recruit at a community college, and the full men’s basketball coaching staff visited a second recruit at his high school during the quiet period.

The committee found that the associate head coach coordinated with a local community college’s men’s basketball head coach to get the high school prospect to the university’s campus for a visit. The community college paid for the prospect to visit the community college. While the prospect was in the area, he also visited the Utah campus, according to the committee.

When he arranged the prospect’s trip, the community college head coach became a booster, the committee said. 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. 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.

The committee said the university’s head coach violated NCAA head coach control rules when he did not promote rules compliance and monitor his staff to ensure they were following the rules. He did not confirm with compliance officials that the off-campus evaluation and contacts were permissible. When the head coach learned about the off-campus recruiting violations, he immediately reported the activity to compliance. In the same conversation, he asked the compliance officer about whether the prospect’s visit could take place, but he did not confirm that all circumstances of the visit complied with NCAA rules. The committee said that as a result, the university allowed a booster to finance an official visit and have contact with a prospect.

The program also committed a Level III violation when the men’s basketball staff observed the head coach’s prospect-aged son participating with members of the men’s basketball team in a practice activity. The committee noted the coaches’ observation of the otherwise permissible activity converted it into an impermissible tryout.

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, involved individuals and university must agree to the facts and overall level of the case to use this process instead of a formal hearing.

The panel held an expedited penalty hearing because the head coach did not agree with the two-game suspension proposed by the committee. After the hearing, the committee determined the violations were unintentional, limited and not indicative of systemic problems. For those reasons, the committee did not prescribe the suspension it initially proposed.

The committee used the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to prescribe the following measures:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • Recruiting restrictions, including:
    • A prohibition of all four countable men’s basketball coaches from off-campus recruiting for a five-day period from July 11-15, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
    • A reduction of men’s basketball in-person recruiting days from 130 to 113 for the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
    • A three-week ban on men’s basketball unofficial visits and complimentary admissions beginning Nov. 2, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
    • A reduction in the number of men’s basketball official visits by two in 2018-19, representing an 8% reduction in visits, based on the four-year average (self-imposed by the university).
  • A one-year show-cause order for the associate head coach. The terms of the show-cause include:
    • A one-week suspension for the associate head coach from Nov. 13-19, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
    • Required attendance at a 2019 Regional Rules Seminar (self-imposed by the university).
    • A prohibition of off-campus recruiting activities during July 2019.
    • A one-year disassociation of the community college head coach.
    • A prohibition from men’s basketball coaches from the community college participating in any official or unofficial visits on the Utah campus for one year. Further for one year, Utah will not recruit any prospects from the community college (self-imposed by the university).  
    • Attendance at an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar by the two assistant men’s basketball coaches (self-imposed by the university).

Members of the Committee on Infractions are drawn from the NCAA membership and the public. The members of the panel who reviewed this case are Norman Bay, attorney in private practice; Carol Cartwright, chief hearing officer for the panel and president emerita at Kent State and Bowling Green; Stephen A. Madva, attorney in private practice; Roderick Perry, athletics director at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Gregory Sankey, commissioner for the Southeastern Conference; Sankar Suryanarayan, university counsel at Princeton; and Sarah Wake, associate general counsel and associate vice president for equity at Northwestern.

Violations in this case include

  • The head coach, associate head coach and two assistant men’s basketball coaches conducted impermissible on- and off-campus recruiting activities (Level II).
  • The head coach is presumed responsible for the recruiting violations (Level II).
  • A prospect participated in summer athletics activity that was organized and observed by the men’s basketball coaching staff (Level III).