The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of South Carolina (“USC”) committed major violations of NCAA legislation. The case was resolved through a negotiated resolution.
The weekend of January 27, 2018, a highly rated high school sophomore football prospective student-athlete (“prospect”) and his mother took an unofficial visit to USC. The purpose of the visit was to attend the USC football program’s Junior Day event. Even though the prospect was a sophomore at the time, his attendance at the Junior Day event was a permissible unofficial visit. The day after the event, a then assistant football coach (“assistant coach”) sent an impermissible text message to the prospect letting him know that he was glad that the prospect and his mother attended the event.
On May 14, 2018, the assistant coach sent the prospect three (3) impermissible text messages with the purpose of notifying him that he would be at the prospect’s high school the following day and would like to make contact with the prospect if he was around. On May 15, 2018, the assistant coach sent additional text messages to confirm a meeting location for the in-person contact with the prospect. The prospect and the assistant coach later met for approximately 10 to 15 minutes in the athletics facilities at the prospect’s high school. They spoke about the prospect’s height and weight as well as when he might return to USC for another visit. After this impermissible in-person contact with the sophomore prospect, the assistant coach met separately with the head football coach at the prospect’s high school and then departed from the school. The visit was logged in South Carolina’s compliance software as an evaluation visit to the high school.
After the assistant coach’s visit to the prospect’s high school, the prospect verbally committed to another institution in June 2018 while at the other institution’s summer football camp. The assistant coach sent two additional impermissible text messages to the prospect on June 5 and 6, 2018, in which he asked about the prospect’s decision to commit to the other institution and to wish him good luck.
The Committee found that USC committed the following violations of NCAA legislation:
Violation of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 188.8.131.52 and 13.4.1 (2017-18) (Level II)
USC, the assistant coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that from January to June 2018, the assistant coach violated NCAA recruiting contact and communication legislation when (1) on May 15, 2018, he arranged and had impermissible in-person, off- campus recruiting contact with the prospect at his high school during his sophomore year and (2) from January to June, he sent a total of 13 impermissible recruiting text messages to the prospect prior to the completion of his sophomore year in high school.
Agreed-Upon Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.3 and 19.9.4
Aggravating factors for the Institution
a. A history of Level I, Level II or major violations by South Carolina. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3(b).
Mitigating factors for the Institution
a. Prompt acknowledgement, acceptance of responsibility and imposition of meaningful corrective action and penalties. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).
b. An established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(d).
c. Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(c).
Aggravating factors for the assistant coach
a. Violations were deliberate. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(f).
b. Intentional, willful or blatant disregard for the NCAA constitution and bylaws. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(m).
Mitigating factor for the assistant coach
a. Prompt acknowledgement of the violation and acceptance of responsibility. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).
b. The absence or prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the involved individual. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(h).
As a result of the aforementioned violations, the Committee penalized USC as follows: