NCAA places Utah men's basketball program on probation due to recruiting violations

USATSI

Utah's men's basketball program has been placed on probation for two years and is facing recruiting restrictions after the NCAA determined it committed multiple recruiting violations during the spring of 2018.

The NCAA's Committee on Infractions released its ruling on Tuesday after an investigation revealed that an associate head coach at Utah conducted impermissible on- and off-campus recruiting violations that were Level II in nature, the second-most severe violation in the eyes of the governing body. The NCAA also found that head coach Larry Krystkowiak failed to monitor his staff appropriately in the manner, leading to a second Level II violation. From the NCAA's ruling:

The recruiting violations occurred over a seven-day period in April 2018. According to the committee, an assistant coach misapplied recruiting rules and believed off-campus recruiting activities were allowed during a quiet period. Acting on the misunderstanding, the committee said the assistant coach conducted an evaluation of a recruit at a community college, and the full men's basketball coaching staff visited a second recruit at his high school during the quiet period.

The committee found that the associate head coach coordinated with a local community college's men's basketball head coach to get the high school prospect to the university's campus for a visit. The community college paid for the prospect to visit the community college. While the prospect was in the area, he also visited the Utah campus, according to the committee.

Due to the unnamed associate head coach's misunderstanding, the head coach of the community college in question arranged for a prospect's trip and subsequently became a booster when he paid for the visit, according to NCAA rules. Because the coach became a booster in the case, the coach's contact with the prospect -- and the money spent to bring the prospect to the state and, later to the University of Utah -- violated recruiting rules. Because the community college paid for the prospect's visit to the university, the visit was classified as an official visit, causing Utah to exceed the maximum allowable number of official visits to exercise during a recruiting calendar.

Both the associate head coach's actions and the head coaches inaction (failure to monitor) were deemed as Level II violations. 

A third and final violation, this one Level III in nature, was found by the NCAA when the coaching staff observed the head coach's prospect-aged son participating with members of the men's basketball team in a practice activity. The Committee on Infractions determined that the action, while permissible in most instances, was considered an impermissible tryout.

The case was resolved using the NCAA's summary disposition process, used when the NCAA, the school and the individuals involved agree on the findings of an investigation. 

Utah will be on probation for two years with the NCAA as a result of these violations, and it also faces these penalties, among others listed in the report here:

  • $5,000 fine (self-imposed)
  • 8% reduction in official visits in 2018-19 (self-imposed)
  • A show-cause penalty lasting one year for the associate head coach, including a one-week suspension from Nov. 13-Nov. 19, 2019.
  • A prohibition of all four countable men's basketball coaches from off-campus recruiting for a five-day period from July 11-15, 2018 (self-imposed)
  • A reduction of men's basketball in-person recruiting days from 130 to 113 for the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed)

The NCAA initially proposed a two-game suspension for Krystkowiak, but dropped that punishment when Utah contested it during the penalty hearing with the NCAA later determining "the violations were unintentional, limited and not indicative of systemic problems."      

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