South Carolina paid a $10,000 fine and lost several weeks of off-campus recruiting activity because a former assistant coach had impermissible contact with a sophomore recruit.
After the recruit visited unofficially (or at his own cost), the coach sent an impermissible text and set up a meeting, which also was impermissible. According to a school release, 13 impermissible messages were sent between January and June of 2018.
The outcome announced Tuesday was reached through a “negotiated resolution process.”
“Once our compliance staff learned of the violations in question, we conducted a thorough internal review and worked closely with the NCAA in the handling of this matter,” South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner said in a statement. “We are diligent in our compliance efforts, both proactively and reactively. When issues arise that counter our compliance culture, we are quick to respond with corrective measures.”
In the statement, Gamecocks football coach Will Muschamp added: “As the head coach of the football program at the University of South Carolina, I am responsible for all facets of the program. I recognize that a violation occurred within my program and I have taken substantial corrective actions to ensure that similar instances do not continue to occur.”
Two Gamecocks assistants departed the program after last season, tight ends coach Pat Washington, now at Appalachian State, and defensive line coach Lance Thompson, who is now at Florida Atlantic.
School president Robert L. Caslen said in the statement: “The assistant coach’s conduct was contrary to our core University values and will not be tolerated at our institution. It is essential that our coaches and student-athletes demonstrate an unwavering commitment to compliance with all values and standards of the NCAA and the University.”
The NCAA’s release, published Tuesday, is below:
“A former University of South Carolina assistant football coach violated NCAA recruiting contact and communication rules, according to an agreement released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.
The university, the involved former assistant coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the impermissible communication began after a highly rated high school sophomore prospect took a permissible unofficial visit to the university. The day after the visit, the former assistant coach sent an impermissible text to the prospect.
According to the agreement, the former assistant coach later sent additional impermissible texts to notify the prospect that he would be at the prospect’s high school the following day and would like to contact the prospect. After confirming the meeting location by text, the former assistant coach had an impermissible recruiting contact with the prospect.
The assistant coach’s text messages violated NCAA rules because recruiting communications cannot permissibly be sent until after a football prospect’s sophomore year of high school. NCAA rules were also violated because off-campus recruiting contacts are not allowed until after a football prospect’s junior year of high school.
This case was processed through the new negotiated resolution process. The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary disposition because the university, the former assistant coach and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the Association and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases.
The university and the enforcement staff used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree upon Level II-mitigated penalties for the university. The enforcement staff also used the guidelines to identify an agreed-upon Level II-Standard penalty for the former assistant coach. Those penalties, approved by the Committee on Infractions, are detailed below:
- A $10,000 fine.
- A prohibition of off-campus football recruiting activity during the first two weeks of the spring 2019 evaluation period and the first four weeks of the fall 2019 evaluation period.
- A reduction of football evaluation days by 12 for the 2018-19 academic year.
- A restriction on all telephone and text communications with football prospects for two weeks beginning Sept. 1, 2019.
- The head football coach may have only off-campus contact with 10 prospects during the fall 2019 contact period.
- One year of probation.
- One-on-one rules education for the head coach regarding NCAA contact and evaluation rules, completed in May 2019.
- The university ended the recruitment of the prospect.
- A one-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. During that period, the former assistant coach must be suspended for one game during the fall of 2019 and must be prohibited from all off-campus recruiting activity during the fall 2019 recruiting period.”