The NCAA put the LSU football program into one year of probation and issued a three-year bid case against a former assistant coach, who it says admitted meeting with a prospect and giving him team equipment during COVID-19 recruiting.
The Tigers said they fired offensive line coach James Craig for some reason in June 2021 after he admitted 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 intended to appeal the judge’s ruling.
In addition to testing, LSU has already imposed a $5,000 fine, a one-week ban in recruiting contacts and unofficial visits, and reductions in official visits and assessment days.
LSU said in a statement: “Today’s decision of the NCAA panel regarding wrongdoing involving a former LSU assistant football coach ends a 21-month collaborative process between the university and the NCAA. Throughout this process, the university has worked in coordination with enforcement officials to establish the truth and impose sanctions ourselves. We are grateful to the committee and enforcement staff for their work and acceptance of our self-imposed sanctions, and are thrilled to be able to move forward as an organization and as a football program. LSU continues to work through the IARP process with respect to other allegations of rule violations.”
While the violations were not significant in nature, their timing during the pandemic was a major concern of the NCAA investigation.
“although [committee] “The abuses in this case represent more egregious behavior than in previous cases, and the violations in this case represent willful misconduct that should be of concern to members,” the NCAA’s Violations Committee said in its decision. Health and safety of prospects, athletes and institutional workers. It also leveled the playing field at a time when the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government varied across the country.”
According to the NCAA’s wrongdoing report, the mother of a potential recruit arranged for a group of 14 recruits to pay an unofficial visit to the LSU campus in September 2020, which was permitted under NCAA rules at the time. The report said LSU officials have met with football coaches, including Cregg, “asserting that employees cannot have any personal contact with recruits.”
The NCAA report said the potential client’s mother planned to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, if her son attended LSU. She asked for recommendations on neighborhoods to visit.
The authority’s report stated that “the former assistant coach recommended several neighborhoods, including his own area, gave directions to the neighborhood in which he resides, and arranged to receive the prospective and his family while they were driving a car in the neighborhood, violating the rules of the death period.” “During this encounter with the prospect and his family, the assistant coach also provided the prospect with a bag of used LSU equipment that he had collected from his home before he left, in violation of NCAA rules prohibiting enlistment temptations.”
The following weekend, according to an NCAA report, the assistant hiring manager picked the prospect and his girlfriend from a hotel and drove them to Tiger Stadium for a tour. The NCAA report said, “The potential client and his family once again passed the former assistant coach’s neighborhood. The assistant coach was in contact with the potential client’s mother when they approached and stood outside his home to meet with the family for a short conversation—another violation of NCAA personal contact rules during the dead period.” .
The NCAA said the assistant hiring manager later returned to the prospect’s hotel and gave him used LSU equipment. The NCAA said the assistant hiring manager violated the NCAA’s rules for in-person contact during a dead period, the numbered instructor’s rules due to off-campus contact by an untrained employee and disallowed benefits.
The Cregg wrongdoing case was not part of an ongoing NCAA investigation into LSU’s men’s soccer and basketball programs, which is being adjudicated through the independent accountability resolution process.
On March 8, the university received a notification of allegations that included eight alleged violations of the first-level rules. Seven of them are allegedly linked to the men’s basketball program. One relates specifically to football, and the two sports share a claim that “the institution has failed to exercise institutional oversight and to monitor the conduct and management of men’s football and basketball programmes”.
There were also two level two claims – one football and one basketball – and one level three football.
The Tigers fired men’s basketball coach Will Wade on March 12. He is charged with five first-level violations and one second-level violation.
According to documents obtained by ESPN in August 2020, NCAA law enforcement officials received information that Wade “arranged, made, and/or made unauthorized payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 prospective students and athletes.” men’s basketball, their family members, and members of the .associated prospects and/or out-of-school coaches in exchange for prospects enrolling at LSU.”
The LSU football program has also been charged with three violations, including a Level 1 charge of embezzling more than $500,000 from a hospital institution and giving some of the stolen money to the parents of former LSU football players.
The Tigers have been charged with a second-tier violation involving widespread NFL receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a former LSU star, who gave $2,000 in cash to four Tigers football players on the field after the team’s 42-25 victory over Clemson in the College National Football Championship The comma in January 2020.
Craig, who is now an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, helped guide the Tigers to the College Football Playoff national title in 2019. His unit won the Joe Moore Award for Best Offensive Line in FBS that season.
ESPN Senior Writer Pete Tamil contributed to this report.
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