Posted by Adam Jacobi
Oh, what a difference proactivity makes. The NCAA announced today that it accepted LSU's one-year probation and scholarship and recruiting reductions in the wake of self-reported recruiting violations. The NCAA praised LSU's compliance department for its role in bringing the NCAA's attention to the matter, and with that, nothing more severe than that year of probation will be levied on the Tigers.
The violation still qualifies as major, however, and as Cecil Hurt points out, that makes every single member of the SEC short of Vanderbilt to be hit with a major violation since 1990.
The NCAA notes that the prospect in question (not named in the report, but known to be former LSU defensive lineman Akiem Hicks) was provided illegal transportation and lodging benefits from a former LSU assistant coach -- again, not named in the report, but known to be D.J. McCarthy, who resigned abruptly in late 2009 after the NCAA's investigation into LSU began. McCarthy also admitted to using a second cell phone, which he never revealed to the LSU compliance department, to make impermissible recruiting calls to Nicks (who has also since left the team).
As for the scholarship and recruiting reductions, they're relatively minor; LSU's recruiting visits will be reduced by 10% over the next two academic years, and the Tigers will be down two scholarships for this year and next. Both reductions were self-imposed by LSU ahead of time, as was the probation.
Here's what the NCAA had to say in favor of the LSU compliance office:
The committee lauds the institution's compliance office for its efforts to investigate and uncover the violations. The compliance office, and particularly the senior associate director of athletics, continued to ask questions regarding prospect 1's living arrangements throughout the summer of 2009 and into the fall. It refused to certify prospect 1's eligibility and allow him to depart for an away contest on September 3, 2009, because those questions had not yet been answered. Had prospect 1 been allowed to travel and compete before the investigation into his pre-enrollment activities was complete, the institution would likely have committed further serious violations. Because the compliance office was proactive, fully investigated and cooperated with the enforcement staff to uncover the full range of the violations, the institution is entitled to relief as set forth in Penalty C-2 below. Further, the committee imposed no additional penalties on the institution.
The NCAA reserved its harshest penalties for McCarthy, who was given a one-year show-cause penalty effective today, which if he is hired by any other NCAA institution during the time, bars him from doing any recruiting via telephone and requires various administrative duties for himself and the hiring institution. It's functionally a year-long ban, as schools almost never put themselves through such rigorous oversight for the sake of a new assistant coach.
Here's the entire 22-page report from the NCAA on the matter. It's made abundantly clear that McCarthy knowingly and repeatedly violated NCAA rules, even involving two student workers in the process, and that he intentionally misled LSU's compliance efforts on several occasions. For his rather singular involvement, and for LSU's proactive approach to the problem, the Tigers avoided the true wrath of the NCAA, and that is no insignificant achievement.