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NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: Florida State University



The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “COI” or “panel”) recently issued its findings and found that Florida State University (“Florida State” or “institution”) committed violations of NCAA legislation.  Florida State, assistant football coach (assistant football coach), and the NCAA enforcement staff agreed with the violations and penalties detailed below.  Accordingly, the parties agreed to a negotiated resolution.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.01.2, 13.1.2.1, 13.1.2.4-(a), 13.1.2.5, 13.1.3.5.1, 13.1.3.5.1.1, 13.2.1 and 13.2.1.1-(e) (2021-22) (Level II)

 

The institution, assistant football coach, and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that on April 14, 2022, assistant football coach, facilitated the impermissible recruitment of prospective student-athlete (“PSA”) by booster and an associated collective. Specifically, during PSA's official visit to the institution, assistant football coach transported PSA, PSA's father and PSA's mother to an off-campus meeting with booster on behalf of the collective. During the meeting, booster encouraged PSA to enroll at the institution and communicated an offer by the collective of approximately $15,000.00 per month for a period of at least one year as compensation for an NIL opportunity regarding PSA. Following the meeting, assistant football coach did not question or inquire about the substance of the meeting with PSA, PSA's father or PSA's mother. After PSA's visit, booster communicated with PSA by text message and PSA's mother by text message and phone call. PSA did not transfer to the institution, enter any NIL agreement offered on the visit or receive related compensation.

 

Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 10.01.1, 10.1, 10.1-(c), 19.2.3 and 19.2.3-(b) (2022 through December 2022) and 19.2.1, 19.2.1-(d), 19.2.2-(a) and 19.2.2-(c) (as of January 2023) (Level II)

 

The institution, assistant football coach, and enforcement staff agreed that on November 30, 2022, and February 1, 2023, assistant football coach, violated the NCAA principles of ethical conduct and failed to cooperate with the enforcement staff when he knowingly provided false or misleading information to the institution and enforcement staff regarding his knowledge of and/or involvement in the violations detailed above. Specifically, assistant football coach denied facilitating the meeting among booster, PSA, PSA's father and PSA's mother that occurred on PSA's official visit to the institution; however, the factual information substantiates that assistant football coach was aware he was transporting PSA and his family to meet with booster.

 

The Aggravating and Mitigating Factors are as follows:

 

Aggravating Factors for the Institution

 

1.     Multiple Level II violations for which the institution is responsible.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.1-(a).

 

2.     Violations were premeditated, deliberate, or committed after substantial planning.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.1-(d).

 

3.     Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.1-(e).

 

4.     Involvement by a representative of the institution's athletics interests in violations.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.1-(k).

 

Mitigating Factors for the Institution

 

  1. Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.4.1-(d).

 

  1. An established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.4.1-(e).

  2. The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the institution within the past 10 years.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.4.1-(h).

 

Aggravating Factors for the Assistant Football Coach

 

1.     Multiple Level II violations.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.2-(a).

 

2.     Violations were premeditated, deliberate, or committed after substantial planning.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.2-(c).

 

  1. Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.2-(d).

 

  1. Intentional, willful, or blatant disregard for NCAA bylaws.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.2-(i).

 

  1. Involvement by a representative of the institution's athletics interests in violations.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.3.2-(j).

 

Mitigating Factors for the Assistant Football Coach

 

1.     Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.4.2-(c).

 

2.     The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the involved individual.  NCAA Bylaw 19.12.4.2-(e).

 

The Committee penalized Florida State as follows:

 

1.     Two years of probation from January 12, 2024, through January 11, 2026.

 

2.     Financial penalty: The institution shall pay a fine of $5,000 plus 1% of the budget for the football program.

 

3.     Scholarship reductions: The institution shall reduce the number of grants-in-aid awarded in the football program by 5% during the two-year probationary period. Specifically, the institution will reduce the number of grants-in-aid awarded in the football program by a total of five during the 2024-25 and 2025-26 academic years.

 

4.     Recruiting restrictions:

 

a.     The institution shall reduce official paid visits in the football program during the 2023-24 academic year by seven from the number of visits permissible. Additionally, the institution shall not rollover six unused official paid visits from the 2022-23 academic year.

 

b.     The institution shall prohibit recruiting communications by members of the football program for a total of six weeks during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years. Specifically, the institution shall prohibit recruiting communications by members of the football program:

 

                                               i.     With all prospective student-athletes, during the one-week period of January 12 through January 18, 2024;

 

                                             ii.     With all prospective student-athletes, for three weeks, applied during recruiting contact or dead periods in the 2024 calendar year on dates of the institution's choosing, provided that the weeks chosen are served in full-week (seven-day) increments and the dates selected do not overlap with the dates of any other recruiting communication bans applied under this subsection;

 

 

                                           iii.     With prospective student-athletes in the transfer portal, during the one-week period of April 15 through April 21, 2024; and

 

                                            iv.     With prospective student-athletes in the transfer portal, for one week, applied during recruiting contact or dead periods in the 2024 calendar year on dates of the institution's choosing, provided that the week chosen is served in a full-week (seven-day) increment and the dates selected do not overlap with the dates of any other recruiting communication bans applied under this subsection.

 

c.     The institution shall reduce the number of evaluation/recruiting person days in the football program during the 2023-24 academic year by six evaluation days in the fall of 2023 and 18 recruiting person days in the spring of 2024 from the total number of evaluation/recruiting person days permissible.

 

d.     The institution restricted assistant coach from all off-campus recruiting in fall 2023.


5.     Show-cause order: Assistant football coach violated recruiting and responsibility to cooperate legislation. Therefore, assistant football coach shall be subject to a two-year show-cause order from January 12, 2024, through January 11, 2026. In accordance with Bylaw 19.12.6.4 and Committee on Infractions Internal Operating Procedure 5-15-5, any employing member institution shall suspend assistant football coach from three regular season contests. The institution, or any member institution that employs assistant football coach in an athletically related position during the two-year show-cause period, shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the office of the Committees on Infractions to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply. The provisions of this suspension require that assistant football coach not be present in the facility where the contests are played and have no contact or communication with football program coaching staff members or student-athletes during the three contest-suspension period. The prohibition includes all coaching activities for the period of time that begins at 12:01 a.m. on the day of the contest and ends at 11:59 p.m. that day. During that period, the assistant football coach may not participate in any coaching activities, including, but not limited to, team travel, practice, video study, recruiting and team meetings. Additionally, any employing member institution shall prohibit recruiting communications by assistant football coach for a total of two weeks during the 2024-25 academic year and require assistant football coach to attend NCAA Regional Rules in May 2025.

 

6.     Public reprimand and censure through the release of the negotiated resolution agreement.

 

7.     Disassociation: The institution shall disassociate booster for a period of three years beginning with the release of this infractions decision on January 12, 2024 and ending January 11, 2027. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.12.8-(i), the disassociation shall include:

 

a.     Refraining from accepting any assistance from booster and/or his business interests that would aid in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes or the support of enrolled student-athletes. Any business interest to which this term applies is expressly permitted to continue working directly with student-athletes for NIL opportunities;


b. Refusing financial assistance or contributions to the institution's athletics program from booster and/or his business interests;


c. Ensuring that no athletics benefit or privilege is provided to booster and/or his business interests, either directly or indirectly, that is not available to the general public; and


d. Taking such other actions that the institution determines to be within its authority to eliminate the involvement booster in the institution's athletics program.

 

8.     Disassociation: The institution shall disassociate the collective for a period of one year beginning with the release of this infractions decision on January 12, 2024 and ending January 11, 2025. Pursuant to Bylaw 19.12.8-(i), the disassociation shall include:


a. Refraining from accepting any assistance from the collective and/or its business interests that would aid in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes or the support of enrolled student-athletes. This term only precludes the institution from accepting such assistance. The collective is expressly permitted to continue working directly with student-athletes for NIL opportunities;


b. Refusing financial assistance or contributions to the institution's athletics program from the collective and/or its business interests. Any payment by the collective in exchange for tickets or other items generally available to the public is expressly permitted and not considered "financial assistance or contributions" under this term;


c. Ensuring that no athletics benefit or privilege is provided to the collective and/or its business interests, either directly or indirectly, that is not available to the general public; and


d. Taking such other actions that the institution determines to be within its authority to eliminate the involvement of the booster in the institution's athletics program.

 

For any questions, contact Christian Dennie at cdennie@denniefirm.com.

 

 

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