PID # 2 – Impermissible Recruiting Contacts & Evaluations

Public Infractions Decision

The following information relates to a recently published Public Infractions Decision made by the Committee on Infractions (COI).

Facts:

During the 2015 spring evaluation period, two assistant football coaches made impermissible in-person contact with two prospects as well as exceeded the number of permissible evaluations during said evaluation period (max of two). Specifically, these two assistant football coaches were looking for a way to “be seen” by these two highly-coveted prospects during the spring evaluation period. Per the infractions decision, the football coaching staff had received previous education from the institution’s compliance office that coaches could not make contacts during evaluation periods; unfortunately, the compliance office also misadvised the coaching staff regarding how to count evaluations when attending a track and field event. These staff members also received education from the NCAA enforcement staff about permissible actions during evaluation periods, including the prohibition on “bump” contacts.

With this in mind, the two assistant coaches attended track and field meets of both prospects during the spring evaluation period. Specifically, the assistant coaches attending a track and field meet in which one of the prospects was competing; however, they did not actually designate this as an evaluation, as they personally concluded that they did not in fact “view” the prospect during the meet. They conducted two additional evaluations of the prospect during the same evaluation period, amounting to one impermissible evaluation. Further, the assistant coaches attended two track meets in which the other prospect competed. Specifically, the assistant coaches engaged in brief conversations with the prospect during each meet, including several conversations over the course of one meet. They also claimed that they did not view the prospect competing due to their vantage point and did not include these as evaluations. Later in the same evaluation period, the assistant coaches visited the prospect’s school on two occasions in order to watch a spring football practice and scrimmage.

In total, the assistant coaches conducted one impermissible evaluation of one prospect and two impermissible evaluations of the other prospect, while also engaging in impermissible contact with this prospect during the spring evaluation period.

Penalties:

  • $5,000 fine
  • Prevent entire football coaching staff from recruiting second prospect for eight weeks.
  • Prohibit the two involved assistant coaches from recruiting at future track and field meets.
  • Prohibit the two involved assistant coaches from off-campus recruiting for a 12-week period during the subsequent fall evaluation period.
  • Suspend each assistant coach for one game during the upcoming football season. These coaches were unable to participate in any game day activities, could not be present at the team hotel and were unable to be present at the stadium prior to, during and after the game.

Takeaways:

- Before a contact supersedes an evaluation made the same day, the contact must be permissible under the bylaws.

- Impermissible contacts will be treated seriously, with potential Level II penalties imposed

-¬†Impermissible contacts are a serious matter to the membership and have been recognized as such by the COI. See, University of Colorado (2002) (concluding that a coach who, in an attempt to “be seen” by prospects, visited their high schools during non-contact periods and positioned himself in areas where the prospects were likely to be, engaged in contacts under the bylaw definition even though he told the prospects he could not talk to them. The face-to-face encounters were extremely advantageous to the institution); University of Florida (2015) (reiterating that, as concluded in Colorado, impermissible contacts confer advantages upon those who engage in them to the detriment of institutions abiding by the rules. Such contacts help build relationships that are critical to recruiting, thus the single impermissible contact in the case was a Level II violation).