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NCAA puts LSU football on probation, agrees to school’s self-imposed penalties for recruiting violations

The NCAA placed LSU’s football program on a probationary year and issued a three-year exhibition case against a former assistant coach, who said he admitted meeting with a prospect and giving him the team’s equipment during a dead period. COVID-19 recruitment.

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

In addition to probation, LSU had already self-imposed a $5,000 fine, a week-long ban on recruiting communication and unofficial visits, and reductions in official visits and testing days.

LSU said in a statement: “Today’s decision by the NCAA Violations Committee involving a former LSU assistant football coach concludes a 21-month cooperative process between the University and the NCAA. Throughout this process , the University has worked closely with enforcement staff to determine the truth and self-impose sanctions on us. We thank the Committee and enforcement staff for their work and for accepting our self-sanctions, and we are pleased to be able to move forward as an institution and as a football program. LSU continues to work through the IARP process regarding other allegations of rule violations.”

While the violations were not of a major nature, their timing during the pandemic was a significant concern for the NCAA investigation.

“Although the [committee] has encountered more egregious conduct in previous cases, the infractions in this case represent intentional misconduct that should be of concern to members,” the NCAA Committee on Infractions panel said in its decision. “The COVID-19 recruitment dead period 19 was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, student-athletes, and institutional personnel. It also leveled the playing field for recruitment at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country.”

According to the NCAA violation report, a prospect’s mother arranged for a group of 14 recruits to pay an informal visit to the LSU campus in September 2020, which was allowed under NCAA rules at the time. The report said LSU officials met with football coaches, including Cregg, “emphasizing that staff could not have any in-person contact with recruits.”

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

“The former assistant coach recommended several neighborhoods, including his own, provided directions to his neighborhood, and arranged to greet the prospect and his family as they drove through the neighborhood, thereby violating dead period rules,” the report said. NCAA. “During that meeting with the prospect and his family, the assistant coach also presented the prospect with a bag of used LSU gear that he had gathered at his home before leaving, which violated NCAA rules prohibiting recruitment incentives.

The following weekend, according to the NCAA report, an assistant recruiting director picked up the prospect and his girlfriend at a hotel and took them to Tiger Stadium for a tour. The NCAA report said the “prospect and his family drove through the former assistant coach’s neighborhood again. The assistant coach was in contact with the prospect’s mother when they approached and stopped outside her home to meet with the family.” for a short conversation, another NCAA violation.” rules for in-person contact during a dead period.

The NCAA said the deputy director of recruiting later returned to the prospect’s hotel and gave him used LSU gear. The NCAA said the assistant recruiting director violated NCAA rules for in-person contact during a dead period, accounting coaching rules due to off-campus recruiting contact by a non-coaching staff member and rules about disallowed benefits.

Cregg’s infraction case was not part of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into LSU’s men’s football and basketball programs, which is being adjudicated through the Independent Liability Resolution Process.

On March 8, the university received a notice of allegations that included eight alleged Level I rule violations. Seven are alleged to be linked to the men’s basketball program. One of them refers specifically to soccer, and the two sports share an accusation that the “institution failed to exercise institutional control and monitor the conduct and administration of its soccer and men’s basketball programs.”

There were also two Level II charges, one for soccer and one for basketball, and one Level III for soccer.

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

According to documents obtained by ESPN in August 2020, NCAA enforcement personnel received information that Wade “arranged, offered, and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 prospective basketball student-athletes.” men, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects, and/or nonacademic coaches in exchange for the prospects’ enrollment at LSU.”

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

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

Cregg, who is now an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, helped guide the Tigers to a College Football Playoffs national 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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