The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the Louisiana State University (“LSU”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case primarily involved a former assistant football coach and his knowledge of violations involving prospect 1. The former assistant football coach directed two student workers in the athletics department to transport prospect 1 from the New Orleans airport to LSU’s football offices when prospect 1 arrived for his April 2009 unofficial visit; the former assistant coach arranged for impermissible transportation when prospect 1 arrived in the vicinity of campus in late May 2009; the former assistant football coach knowingly provided impermissible transportation to prospect 1 on two occasions; and the former assistant football coach made impermissible phone calls to prospect 1 using a cell whose existence he concealed from LSU. Additionally, further violations occurred when three non-coaching members of the athletics administration made or received over 3,6000 phone calls to or from high school coaches and administrators, prospects, and family members of prospects.
The Committee found that LSU committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
1. Impermissible Transportation in violation of NCAA Bylaws 13.5.1 and 13.5.3
A. During the period from April through August 2009, while recruiting prospect 1, LSU provided prospect 1 impermissible automobile transportation.
i. The unofficial visit took place from April 14-16, 2009. When prospect 1 arrived for the visit he was picked up by student workers 1 and 2, who transported him at no cost from the New Orleans airport to LSU’s campus, a distance of approximately 62 miles. During the two day visit, student worker 2 provided prospect 1 with local transportation at no cost to and from her campus apartment, LSU’s football operations building, and a restaurant.
ii. Prospect 1 moved to the vicinity of LSU’s campus on May 28, 2009, to attend a local community college. As had been the case the previous month when prospect 1 made his unofficial visit, the former assistant football coach arranged for a student worker in the athletics department to provide him with automobile transportation at no cost from the Baton Rouge airport to LSU’s football operations building.
iii. The former assistant football coach drove prospect 1 to a local apartment complex and also provided prospect 1 with round-trip automobile transportation at no cost from a site near his apartment to the community college so he could enroll in a math course he needed to pass for admission and eligibility purposes.
iv. On two occasions during the summer of 2009, a football student-athlete provided prospect 1 local automobile transportation at no cost to church and the former assistant football coach’s home.
2. Impermissible Lodging in violation of NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199-(h)
A. During the period April 14-16, 2009, while prospect 1 was on an unofficial visit to LSU, student worker 2 provided him two nights’ lodging at her apartment at no cost. Prospect 1 and student worker 2 met during his November 2008 official visit and remained in contact with one another.
3. Impermissible Phone Calls in violation of NCAA Bylaws 188.8.131.52.2, 184.108.40.206.7, and 220.127.116.11.1
A. From September 25, 2008 through July 27, 2009, members of LSU’s football staff and student worker 2 made 25 impermissible telephone recruiting calls. Twenty-two of the calls were made to prospect 1.
i. LSU discovered that twenty-five impermissible phone calls were made by athletics department personnel and fifteen of those calls were made to prospect 1 in violation of the one-call-per-week rule. Thirteen of those calls were made by the former assistant football coach and two were made by another former assistant football coach and the head football coach. Both of the latter two calls were inadvertent violations, as the callers were unaware that the former assistant coach had already phoned prospect 1 in the same week. The former assistant football coach failed to record his calls.
ii. Seven other calls involving prospect 1 were impermissible because they were made or received by student worker 2 who was precluded by NCAA legislation from making telephone contact with prospects.
iii. The thirteen impermissible calls made by the former assistant football coach were made with a second cell phone in possession of the former assistant football coach that was not disclosed to the LSU compliance staff. The former assistant football coach did not log the calls made from the second cell phone and, thus, lead to the football coaching staff making inadvertent impermissible telephone calls.
iv. On four occasions between January 9-21, 2009, prospect 1 called student worker 2 in the athletics department. As student worker 2 was not a countable coach, she was precluded by rule from having the phone contact with prospect 1.
v. Twice on June 1, 2009, the former assistant football coach placed impermissible calls from his second cell phone to the father of prospect 2.
4. Impermissible Phone Calls in violations of NCAA Bylaws 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124.1.
A. During the period of August 1, 2008 through April 1, 2010, the assistant athletics director for football operations, the director of player personnel, and the director of external relations, placed or received 3,483 telephone calls to or from prospects, parents, high school coaches, or administrators. As none of these 3,484 calls were monitored or documented as permissible under NCAA legislation, they were assumed to have a recruiting purpose. The three listed individuals are not members of LSU’s coaching staff, so they were not permitted to make recruiting phone calls.
i. The director of external relations exchanged nine telephone calls with four different prospective student-athletes or their parents. Of these calls, five were outgoing and the director of external relations indicated he was returning calls. Additionally, the director of external relations placed 1,883 telephone calls and received 782 telephone calls involving 139 different high school coaches, totaling 2,674 telephone calls. Of his over 2,600 calls to high schools, the director of external relations stated the majority of the calls were made to coaches he has known for many years. The subjects of these conversations included ticket requests, speaking at clinics, football strategy, coaching at summer camps, or personal talk between old friends.
ii. The director of football operations was responsible for 293 calls, including 62 calls to 21 prospects and/or their parents. The director of operations indicated that these calls related to logistics for upcoming officials visits, necessary paperwork for early enrollees, or information for potential walk-ons. Had NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199.1.2 been in effect at the time of the calls, many of the calls would have been permissible. Additionally, he placed or received 173 calls from numbers registered to high schools. Finally, he placed or received 58 calls from high school coaches. These calls related to transcripts for prospects and game ticket requests from coaches.
iii. The director of player personnel placed or received 63 telephone calls to 29 different prospective student-athletes or their parents. He surmised that these conversations were likely relating to game film for prospective student-athletes. Additionally, the director of player personnel placed or received 180 telephone calls to or from a high school, and 274 telephone calls were placed or received from a high school coach. These calls, according to the director of player personnel, related to sending LSU’s defensive scheme video to high schools or coaches discussing the opportunity to be a graduate assistant or attend camp at LSU.
iv. LSU noted that many calls by the staff members related to camps and clinics, which are allowable for non-coaching staff members to make. However, the subject matter of many of the calls was not contemporaneously recorded, making it impossible to ascertain an exact number of calls that related to camps and clinics. Additionally, LSU indicated a number of the calls were made for administrative purposes or were conversations with old friends, thus having nothing to do with the recruitment of prospects.
5. Unethical Conduct in violation of NCAA Bylaws 10.01 and 10.1
A. From September 2008 through the summer of 2009, the former assistant coach did not on all occasions deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized standards of honesty normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics in that his involvement in the violations referenced above demonstrated a knowing effort to operate LSU’s football program contrary to NCAA legislation.
i. The former assistant football coach was the catalyst for the violations that occurred during the recruitment of prospect 1. He enlisted the student workers to take actions he knew or should have known constituted violations, he personally knowingly committed violations he engaged in actions designed to hide the violations.
ii. The former assistant football coach knew the transportation provided to prospect 1, as outlined above, was impermissible, but argued that the transportation was for humanitarian purposes. Yet, he never reported the transportation to the LSU compliance office.
iii. The former assistant football coach arranged for student workers 1 and 2 to violate NCAA legislation by providing free transportation to prospect 1 from the New Orleans airport and around town during prospect 1’s official visit.
iv. The former assistant football coach was aware of the prospect 1’s lodging arrangements during his unofficial visit. In fact, he was the only LSU staff member aware of unofficial visit and he did not complete the LSU compliance forms necessary for an unofficial visit.
v. Student worker 2 indicated that the former assistant football coach provided her with a credit card to pay for prospect 1’s meals while on his unofficial visit.
vi. The former assistant football coach made impermissible telephone calls using a second cell phone that was registered to another person and was not disclosed to the athletic department. Additionally, when questioned about the use of the second cell phone, the former assistant football coach was not honest or forthcoming about the owner of the phone, how long he had the phone, and the purpose of the phone.
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized LSU as follows:
1. Public reprimand and censure.
2. One year of probation from July 19, 2011 through July 18, 2012.
3. Reduction in the official visits for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years. Official visits allowed from August 1, 2010 through July 31, 2012, shall not exceed 40 total for each of the two years.
4. Reduction of initial scholarships recipients by two total scholarships, thereby limiting LSU to 23 initial scholarships for the 2011-12 class.
5. Reduction of overall scholarship counters by two total scholarships, thereby limiting LSU to 83 overall scholarship counters for the 2010-11 academic year.
6. Total of 26 NLI/Southeastern Conference Scholarship papers that could have been mailed for the February 2011 signing date.
7. No telephone calls to prospects will be permitted during the first week of September.
8. For the second through fourth weeks of September, the football staff may only use its permissible one call per week per prospect during tow of those three weeks.
9. During the second through four weeks of September, only seven of the nine full-time assistant coaches will be permitted to engage in telephone communications (outgoing and incoming) with prospects.
10. The head football coach may not engage in any telephone communications (outgoing or incoming) with a prospect during the month of September.
11. The former assistant football coach received a one year show cause penalty.