NCAA puts LSU football on probation, accepts school self-imposed penalties for recruitment violations

The NCAA awarded LSU’s football program one year of probation and filed a three-year show lawsuit against a former assistant coach, who allegedly admitted meeting with a potential client and providing him with the team equipment during a COVID-19 recruitment deadline.

The Tigers said they fired offensive line manager James Cregg for cause in June 2021 after admitting violating NCAA rules. On August 25, a Louisiana judge awarded him nearly $ 500,000 after ruling that LSU had terminated his contract for no reason. At the time, the university said it wanted to challenge the judge’s ruling.

In addition to probation, LSU had already imposed a $ 5,000 fine on itself, a one-week ban on recruiting unofficial communications and visits, and reductions in official visits and evaluation days.

LSU said in a statement, “Today’s NCAA infringement committee decision involving a former LSU assistant football coach concludes a 21-month cooperative process between the University and the NCAA. During this process, the University worked in concert with law enforcement personnel We are grateful to the Committee and law enforcement personnel for their work and for accepting our self-imposed sanctions, and we are delighted to be able to move forward as an institution and as a program football. LSU continues to work through the IARP trial regarding other allegations of rule violations. “

While the violations were not of a serious nature, their timing during the pandemic was a matter of considerable concern to the NCAA investigation.

“Although the [committee] found more egregious behavior in past cases, the violations in this case represent intentional misconduct that should worry members, “the NCAA Infringement Committee panel said in its decision.” COVID-19 Recruitment Deadline it was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, student-athletes and institutional staff. It also leveled the playing field for recruiting at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country. “

According to the NCAA Infrastructure Report, the mother of a prospective client arranged an informal visit to a group of 14 recruits at the LSU campus in September 2020, at the time allowed by NCAA rules. The report said that LSU officials met with football coaches, including Cregg, “pointing out that the staff could not have any in-person contact with the recruits.”

The NCAA report stated that the prospective client’s mother intended to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana if her son attended LSU. She asked for advice on possible neighborhoods to visit.

“The former assistant coach advised several neighborhoods including his own, provided directions for his neighborhood, and arranged to greet the prospect and his family as they drove through the neighborhood, thus violating the deadline rules,” states the NCAA report. “During that meeting with the prospect and his family, the assistant coach also provided the prospect with a bag of used LSU equipment that he had collected from his home before leaving, which violated NCAA rules that banned. incentives for recruitment “.

The following weekend, according to the NCAA report, an assistant recruiting director picked up the prospect and his girlfriend from a hotel and took them to Tiger Stadium for a tour. The NCAA report stated that “the prospect and his family once again went through the former assistant coach’s neighborhood. The assistant coach was in contact with the prospect’s mother as they approached and stopped outside the home to meet the family. for a brief conversation – another violation of the NCAA rules for in-person contact during a dead period. “

The NCAA said the assistant recruiting director later returned to the prospect’s hotel and provided him with used LSU equipment. The NCAA said the assistant to the director of recruitment violated the NCAA rules for in-person contact during a dead period, the rules of countable coaches due to off-campus recruiting contact by a non-coaching staff member and the rules relating to disallowed benefits.

Cregg’s infringement case was not part of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into LSU’s men’s soccer and basketball programs, which was adjudicated through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

On March 8, the university received a notice of charges that included eight alleged level I rule violations. Seven would be related to the men’s basketball program. One of these specifically concerns football, and the two sports share the accusation that “the institution did not exercise institutional control and did not monitor the conduct and administration of its men’s football and basketball programs”.

There were also two level II charges – one for football and one for basketball – and one for level III football.

The Tigers fired men’s basketball coach Will Wade on March 12. He was charged with five level I violations and one level II violation.

According to documents obtained by ESPN in August 2020, NCAA law enforcement personnel received information that Wade “arranged, offered and / or provided disallowed payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 prospective students. male basketball athletes, their family members, individuals associated with prospective clients and / or out-of-school coaches in exchange for enrolling prospective clients into LSU. “

LSU’s football program is also charged with three violations, including a Tier I indictment involving a Tigers supporter embezzling more than $ 500,000 from a hospital foundation and giving some of the stolen money to the parents of two former players. football club of LSU.

The Tigers are accused of a Level II violation involving NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a former LSU star, who gave $ 2,000 in cash to four Tigers football players on the pitch after winning 42 Team -25 on Clemson at the National College Football Playoff Championship in January 2020.

Cregg, who is now an assistant line manager for the San Francisco 49ers, helped lead the Tigers to a National College Football Playoff title in 2019. His unit won the Joe Moore Award for Best Offensive Line in the FBS that season.

ESPN Senior Writer Pete Thamel contributed to this report.


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