LSU hit with NCAA penalties for violating hiring rules during pandemic

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LSU was hit with NCAA penalties on Thursday, but they were unrelated to the scandal involving former basketball coach Will Wade.

Instead, the case revolves around former football assistant coach James Cregg, who was fired in June 2021. to the NCAA.

In addition to Cregg, a former deputy director of recruiting for LSU met the prospect separately during that dead period. Both “foreseen the prospect of inadmissible recruiting incentives,” according to the NCAA.

As a result, LSU has been slapped with one-year probation, a $5,000 fine, and a series of recruiting penalties to the football program. These include a limit on official visits to 55, a one-week ban on unofficial visits, a one-week ban on soliciting communications, and a seven-day reduction in evaluation days.

In addition, the NCAA has fined Cregg for three years.

Cregg served as LSU’s offensive line coach for three seasons, including the Tigers’ 2019 national championship season under former head coach Ed Orgeron. He is currently an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers.

LSU, now in its first season under Brian Kelly, is off to a 2-1 start this season.

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The LSU football program is sanctioned by the NCAA for unauthorized contact with recruits during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. (TBEN Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

LSU Violated Hiring Rules During Pandemic

Trouble arose for LSU when a recruit’s mother brought 14 prospects to LSU’s campus in September 2020. According to the NCAA, the football staff knew the group was visiting, but were informed by the compliance officers that they had no personal contact with the recruits.

A recruit’s mother planned to move to the Baton Rouge area if her son chose to play for LSU, so she asked about “possible neighborhoods to visit.” According to the NCAA, Cregg recommended several neighborhoods, including the one where he lived, and arranged to “greet the prospect and his family as they drove through the neighborhood.” Cregg also “provided the prospect with a bag of used LSU gear” from his home. Greeting the family violated the dead period rules, while giving the recruiting gear violated NCAA rules about recruiting incentives.

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A week later, the recruit and his family were back on the LSU campus. During that visit, LSU’s former assistant director of recruiting “picked up the prospect and his girlfriend from their hotel and drove them to the stadium for a tour.” The deputy recruiting director later “came back to the prospect’s hotel and delivered several items of used LSU equipment to the prospect.”

Those who violate the contact rules and the free transportation and equipment are also considered an incentive under NCAA rules.

During the second visit, the prospect and his family also met Cregg and had a “brief chat” outside his home.

According to the NCAA, both the coach and the assistant recruiting director acknowledged “that they knew their behavior was intolerable.”

In a statement, the panel of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions acknowledged that these violations were not overly serious, but the fact that they occurred during the dead period of COVID-19 “would be of concern” to NCAA members.

“Although the [committee] While more egregious behavior has been encountered in previous cases, the violations in this case represent intentional misconduct that should be a concern for membership,” the panel said in its decision. a level playing field for recruitment at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country.”

Cregg involved in lawsuit with LSU

Last month, a judge in Baton Rouge ruled that LSU must pay Cregg the remaining salary on his contract — a fee of $492,945.20. The ruling came after Cregg filed a lawsuit alleging his termination by LSU was unlawful.

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According to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Cregg’s lawsuit acknowledged that the coach told an NCAA enforcement official that “he met and handed team equipment to a prospect during the COVID recruiting dead period.”

After the August ruling was handed down, LSU said in a statement it planned to appeal the decision.

From the Daily Advertiser:

“We are clearly disappointed with the court’s ruling. A coach admitted under oath to the NCAA that he had contacted and provided athletic gear to a recruit despite being advised by compliance personnel about an existing period of no contact with recruits,” the press release read. had a contractual right and obligation to terminate this coach’s contract. Unfortunately, the court did not see this in the same way. We intend to appeal this decision.”

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