On November 16, 2012, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions determined a former University of Tennessee assistant football coach knowingly worked with a booster to provide impermissible travel and lodging to a prospective student-athlete. The Committee also cited the former assistant coach with unethical conduct.
Specifically, during the spring of 2009, the former assistant coach developed a relationship with a booster because the football program subscribed to the booster’s scouting service. When the former assistant coach became aware of the booster’s relationship with a prospective student-athlete, the former assistant coach began discussing the prospect’s interest in visiting and attending the university. According to the report, “with the understanding that the former assistant coach would reimburse him, the booster then purchased airline tickets for the prospect and his mother to travel to the university for an unofficial visit. Once in Knoxville, the former assistant coach also provided impermissible travel and lodging to the prospect and his mother.” Additionally, the former assistant coach acted unethically by failing to disclose his involvement in the visit during earlier interviews with the NCAA enforcement staff and the university.
Because the additional impermissible recruiting activity had not yet been discovered and presented to the committee in the earlier case, the committee notes it did not have a complete picture regarding the violations that were occurring in the football program at that time. The university is not considered a repeat violator because the infractions occurred prior to the previous committee decision.
The institutional penalties in this case included: (1) public reprimand and censure; (2) a two-year extension of the probation period imposed in the August 2011 report from August 24, 2013 through August 23, 2015; (3) a three-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach; (4) limiting the football program to 46 official visits for the 2012-13 academic year and a reduction in recruiting evaluation days by four for the spring 2012 period; and (5) preventing complimentary tickets from being provided to visiting prospective student-athletes for the first two conference games of the 2013 season.
Takeaway: In light of this case, the Buckner Law Firm recommends institutions athletics compliance offices enhance recruiting monitoring and unofficial visit reporting procedures for all athletics teams. Additionally, institutions should implement specific rules-education programming regarding the use of recruiting services by the institution’s athletics teams.
The full report can be found here.