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Central Florida cited for recruiting violations, lack of institutional control

The University of Central Florida exhibited a lack of institutional control and was responsible for impermissible recruiting activities and extra benefits, according to a decision announced today by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

The case centered on what the committee noted was an ever-increasing problem in college athletics today, namely the involvement of outside third parties with prospects and student-athletes. This impermissible activity also resulted in findings of unethical conduct for the former director of athletics and a former assistant football coach and a failure to monitor by the head men’s basketball coach.

According to the findings, the impermissible recruiting activity undertaken by these third parties, who through their activity became athletics representatives of UCF, was both known by athletics department personnel, and, in some cases encouraged. As a result of the activity, the penalties in this case include five years of probation, a postseason ban in men’s basketball and football, show-cause orders for athletics department personnel, scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, a vacation of men’s basketball records and a $50,000 fine.

Two athletics representatives, one of whom was a nonscholastic coach, had significant telephone, off-campus and on-campus recruiting contact with six men’s basketball and five football prospective student-athletes. The nonscholastic coach’s recruiting activity led several prospects and parents to believe that he was a coach for the university.

It was evident that this athletics representative “was making an effort to develop a network of relationships with prospective student-athletes and, in turn, expand his sphere of influence within the collegiate coaching community,” according to the committee’s report.

Additionally, the representatives provided more than $16,000 to three prospects and two UCF student-athletes. Specifically, the representatives provided travel expenses, cash payments, tuition and a laptop computer.

The former director of athletics and the former assistant football coach engaged in unethical activity, according to the committee’s findings. Both individuals knowingly provided false and misleading information during interviews with UCF compliance and NCAA enforcement staff. Further, the former director of athletics failed to take steps to prevent the involvement of boosters in recruiting activities, and on at least one occasion, he became involved in a violation as a result of the representatives’ activity. The former director of athletics claimed that he was not aware of recruiting rules and thus did not know he was engaging in impermissible activity. The committee noted, “As the leader of the athletics department, it is incumbent upon the director of athletics to know basic rules governing the Association.”

The head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor when he did not stop or discourage the representatives’ activities, ask reasonable questions about the circumstances or report the violations. The report notes, “A head coach is not required to investigate wrongdoing, but is expected to recognize potential NCAA violations, address them and report them to the athletics administration.”

Because of the scope and nature of the findings, UCF lacked institutional control. This finding is supported by the fact that the UCF athletics department staff allowed third parties to be involved in recruiting activity and gave these individuals benefits and favors, including event tickets and access to the program.

Penalties in this case include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Five years probation from February 10, 2012, through February 9, 2017.
  • Postseason ban for the 2012 football season and 2012-13 men’s basketball season.
  • The head men’s basketball coach was suspended for the first three conference games of the 2011-12 season (self-imposed by the university) and given a three-year show-cause order starting with the 2012-13 season. Details of the show-cause orders can be found in the public report. Additionally, the coach may not recruit off-campus during all three July evaluation periods for the July 2012 and July 2013 evaluation periods.
  • An assistant men’s basketball coach was suspended for the first two conference games of the 2011-12 season (self-imposed by the university). Additionally, the coach may not recruit off-campus during all three July evaluation periods for the July 2012 and July 2013 evaluation periods.
  • A three-year show-cause order for the former director of athletics and a one-year show cause for the former assistant football coach. The show-cause orders do not allow any contact with prospective student-athletes. The public report contains further details. Disassociation of three representatives of athletics interest (self-imposed by the university).
  • Reduction of five initial (from 25 maximum) and five total (from 85 maximum) football scholarships for three academic years.
  • A limit of 11 men’s basketball scholarships (from 13 maximum) for three academic years.
  • $50,000 fine.
  • Vacation of all men’s basketball wins in which an ineligible student-athlete competed for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons. The public report includes further details (self-imposed by the university). 
  • Reduction of the number of permissible off-campus recruiters:
    • Reduction of two full-time football coaches permitted to recruit off-campus during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
    • Reduction of one full-time men’s basketball coach permitted to recruit off-campus during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
  • Reduction in the available number of recruiting person days by 25 for men’s basketball during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • Reduction in the available number of recruiting person days by nine in the fall football evaluation period and 34 in the spring football evaluation period during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (self-imposed by the university).
  • Football official paid visits are limited to 30 for each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
  • Men’s basketball official paid visits are limited to seven for each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (self-imposed by the university). 

 

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Melissa (Missy) Conboy, acting chair of the Committee on Infractions and deputy director of athletics at the University of Notre Dame; Christopher L. Griffin, attorney; Roscoe C. Howard, Jr., attorney; Eleanor W. Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; James O'Fallon, law professor and faculty athletics representative at the University of Oregon; Greg Sankey, executive associate commissioner and chief operating officer for the Southeastern Conference; Dennis E. Thomas, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; Rodney J. Uphoff, law professor at the University of Missouri, Columbia; and Thomas E. Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association.