NCAA places LSU football on probation, accepts school’s self-imposed penalties over recruiting violations

The NCAA has put LSU’s football program on a one-year probation and issued a three-year show sentence against a former assistant coach who admitted meeting with a prospect and giving him team gear during a COVID-19 recruiting deadlock.

The Tigers said they fired offensive line coach James Cregg for cause in June 2021 after he admitted to violating NCAA rules. On Aug. 25, a Louisiana judge awarded him nearly $500,000 after ruling that LSU had terminated his contract without cause. At the time, the university announced that it would appeal the judge’s verdict.

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

LSU said in a statement, “Today’s decision by the NCAA Violations Committee, which involved a former LSU assistant football coach, completes a 21-month collaborative process between the university and the NCAA. During this process, the university has worked with law enforcement personnel to determine the truth and self-impose sanctions. We are grateful to the committee and correctional staff for their work and for accepting our self-imposed sentences, and we look forward to moving forward as an institution and as football LSU continues to work the IARP process on other allegations from breaking the rules.”

While the violations were not serious, their timing during the pandemic was of significant importance to the NCAA’s investigation.

“Although the [committee] “While we have encountered more egregious behavior in previous cases, the violations in this case constitute willful misconduct that should concern members,” the NCAA Violations Committee panel said in its decision. “The COVID-19 recruitment dead time should protect the health and safety of prospects, student athletes and institutional staff. It has also leveled the playing field for recruitment at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country.”

According to the NCAA Violations Report, in September 2020, the mother of a prospect arranged an informal visit to the LSU campus for a group of 14 recruits, which was permitted under NCAA rules at the time. According to the report, LSU officials met with the football coaches, including Cregg, “and stressed that staff could not have face-to-face contact with recruits.”

According to the NCAA report, the prospect’s mother planned to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in case her son attended LSU. She asked for recommendations on possible neighborhoods to visit.

“The former assistant coach recommended several neighborhoods, including his own, gave directions to his neighborhood, and arranged to greet the prospect and his family as they drove through the neighborhood, thereby violating dead time rules,” reads in the NCAA report. “During this encounter with the prospect and his family, the assistant coach also provided the prospect with a bag of used LSU gear that he had collected from his home prior to his departure, in violation of NCAA rules governing enlisting.” of incentives.”

The next weekend, according to the NCAA report, an assistant recruiting director picked up the prospect and his girlfriend from a hotel and drove them to Tiger Stadium for a tour. The NCAA report states that “the prospect and his family again drove through the former assistant coach’s neighborhood. The assistant coach was in contact with the prospect’s mother when they approached and stood outside his home to meet the family for a brief chat – another violation of NCAA rules on face-to-face contact during a dead time.”

The NCAA said the recruiting assistant director later returned to the prospect’s hotel and gave him used LSU gear. The NCAA said the recruiting assistant director violated the NCAA rules for personal contact during a dead time, the countable coach rules for off-campus recruiting contact by a non-coaching staff member, and the rules for improper benefits.

The case of Cregg’s violations was not part of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into LSU’s football and men’s basketball programs, which is being decided under the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.

On March 8, the university received notice of allegations that included eight alleged violations of Level I rules. Seven are said to be tied to the men’s basketball program. One of these relates specifically to football, and the two sports share claims that the “institution has failed to exercise institutional control and oversee the operation and administration of its football and men’s basketball programs.”

There were also two Level II allegations – a soccer ball and a basketball – and a Level III allegation for soccer.

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

According to documents obtained by ESPN in August 2020, NCAA enforcement personnel received information that Wade “arranged, offered and/or made improper payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 prospective basketball students, their family members and individuals associated with the prospects and.” /or non-academic coaches in exchange for the prospect’s enrollment at LSU.”

LSU’s football program is also accused of three violations, including a Level I charge in which a Tigers booster embezzled more than $500,000 from a hospital endowment and passed some of the stolen money to the parents of two former LSU football players .

The Tigers are charged with a Level II violation involving NFL free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a former LSU star, who killed four Tigers football players after the team’s 42-25 win over Clemson in college gave $2,000 in cash on the field Football Playoff National Championship in January 2020.

Cregg, who is now an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, helped the Tigers win a national title in the college football playoffs in 2019. His unit won the Joe Moore Award for Best Offensive Line in FBS that season.

ESPN Senior Writer Pete Thamel contributed to this report. NCAA places LSU football on probation, accepts school’s self-imposed penalties over recruiting violations

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