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The NCAA Committee on Infractions Has Spoken: University of Florida

The NCAA Committee on Infractions (“Committee” or “Panel” or “COI”) recently issued its findings and found that the University of Florida (“institution” or “UF” or “Florida”) committed violations of NCAA legislation.


The institution, the assistant football coach, the head football coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that between January and March 2019 the football program committed violations of NCAA recruiting legislation. The violations include two separate instances of impermissible recruiting activities. The parties also agree that the head football coach, as the head coach, is presumed responsible for the violations and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility as he was personally involved in one of the violations. The parties agree that this case is Level II Mitigated for the institution, Level II Standard for the head football coach and Level II Mitigated for the assistant football coach.


In January 2019, the NCAA enforcement staff received information regarding a potential impermissible contact by the assistant football coach and the head football coach with a 2020 football prospective student-athlete at his high school in Seattle, Washington. The NCAA enforcement staff interviewed the prospective student-athlete and the prospect's head football coach, both of whom confirmed the contact. The prospective student-athlete also provided the NCAA enforcement staff with text messages that the head football coach sent to him in the days leading up to the January 14, 2019 visit. Specifically, on January 10, the head football coach texted the prospective student-athlete "Coming to see you Monday." and "You are on the top of my list." On January 13, the head football coach texted the prospective student-athlete a picture from the airport showing information on his flight to Seattle. When interviewed by the NCAA enforcement staff, both the assistant football coach and the head football coach admitted to having a 15-minute meeting with the prospect's head football coach while the prospective student-athlete was in the room. The head football coach further acknowledged that he sent the prospective student-athlete text messages in anticipation of the trip. Accordingly, the institution, the head football coach and enforcement staff agreed that he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance due to his personal involvement in the violation.


Additionally, while the institution and NCAA enforcement staff were investigating the contact with the prospective student-athlete, the institution self-reported a Level III violation resulting from a series of unofficial visits to its campus. Specifically, seven nonscholastic football teams visited the institution's football offices March 28 and 29, 2019, on their way to a competition in Tampa, Florida. A total of 127 football prospective student-athletes received a tour of the facilities during the visit. While on the tour, the assistant football coach had incidental contact with several prospective student-athletes and posed for a photo with at least one of the teams.


This case was resolved through a negotiated resolution.


The Committee concluded that UF committed the following violations:


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.1.1.1 (2018-2019) (Level II)


The institution, the assistant football coach, the head football coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that January 14, 2019, the assistant football coach and the head football coach arranged for and had an impermissible off-campus recruiting contact with a prospective student-athlete at his high school before July 1 following the completion of his junior year. Specifically, the assistant football coach and the head football coach met with the prospect's head football coach while the prospective student-athlete was in the room for approximately 15 minutes and discussed the institution's interest in the prospective student-athlete enrolling as a football student-athlete.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 11.1.1.1 (2018-19) (Level II)


The institution, the head football coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that the head football coach is presumed responsible for the violation detailed above and did not rebut the presumption of responsibility. Specifically, regarding the violation detailed above, the head football coach did not demonstrate that he promoted an atmosphere of compliance due to his personal involvement in the violation.


Violations of NCAA Division I Manual Bylaws 13.1.6.2-(b) (2018-19) (Level III)


The institution and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that March 28 and 29, 2019, members of the football coaching staff had impermissible contact with approximately 127 football prospective student-athletes while the prospective student-athletes were traveling to an away-from-home competition. Specifically, seven nonscholastic football teams visited the institution's campus on their way to Tampa for a nonscholastic football competition. While on campus, the football prospective student-athletes visited the football offices and toured the facilities. At least one of the nonscholastic teams had contact and posed for pictures with a member of the football coaching staff.


Aggravating and Mitigating Factors in accordance with NCAA Bylaws 19.9.3 and 19.9.4


Aggravating Factors for the Institution


A history of Level I, II or major violations by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(b).


Multiple Level II violations by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g).


Persons of authority conducted, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h).


Mitigating Factors for the Institution


Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and (for an institution) imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).


Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(c).


An established history of self-reporting Level III or secondary violations. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(d).


Implementation of a system of compliance methods designed to ensure rules compliance and satisfaction of institutional/coaches' control standards. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(e).


Aggravating Factors for the Head Football Coach


Multiple Level II violations by the involved individual. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(g).

Persons of authority conducted, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.3-(h).


Mitigating Factors for the Head Football Coach


Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and (for an institution) imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).


Affirmative steps to expedite final resolution of the matter. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(c).


The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(h).


Aggravating Factors for the Assistant Football Coach


None.


Mitigating Factors for the Assistant Football Coach


Prompt acknowledgement of the violation, acceptance of responsibility and (for an institution) imposition of meaningful corrective measures and/or penalties. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(b).


The absence of prior conclusions of Level I, Level II or major violations committed by the institution. NCAA Bylaw 19.9.4-(h).


As a result of the foregoing, the Committee penalized UF as follows:


1. Public reprimand and censure.


2. Probation: One year of probation from December 22, 2020, through December 21, 2021.


3. Financial penalty: The Institution will pay a fine of $5,000 to the NCAA.


4. Recruiting Restrictions: (a) The institution reduced the number of official visits for football by one during the 2019-20 academic year; (b) The institution reduced the number of unofficial visits for football by 14 days during the 2019-20 academic year; and (c) The institution shall impose a seven-day off-campus recruiting ban for the entire football coaching staff for the spring of 2021 off-campus recruiting period.


5. Show-cause order: The head football coach was personally involved in the recruiting violations. Therefore, the head football coach will be subject to a one-year show-cause order from December 22, 2020, through December 21, 2021. In accordance with Bylaw 19.9.5.4 and NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions Internal Operating Procedure 5-15-3, any employing member institution shall restrict the head football coach as follows: (a) The institution shall impose an off-campus recruiting ban on the head football coach for the entire fall of 2020 evaluation period; (b) The institution shall impose a four-day off-campus recruiting ban on the head football coach during the November and/or December 2021 contact period as defined by Bylaw 13.17.5.1-(b); and (c) The institution or any member institution that employs the head football coach in an athletically related position during the one-year show-cause period, shall abide by the terms of the show-cause order unless it contacts the Office of the Committees on Infractions (OCOI) to make arrangements to show cause why the terms of the order should not apply.


6. The institution ceased the recruitment of the prospective student-athlete.


7. The institution shall ban the recruitment of any prospective football student-athletes at the prospect's school in Seattle, Washington for the 2019-20 through 2021-22 academic years.


8. The institution will issue a letter of reprimand to the head football coach and provide additional one-on-one rules education.


9. The institution imposed a 30-day off-campus recruiting ban on the assistant football coach beginning October 1, 2019, of the fall of 2019 evaluation period.


10. The institution banned the assistant football coach from off-campus recruiting for three days of the January 2020 contact period.


11. The institution will issue a letter of reprimand to the assistant football coach and provide additional one-on-one rules education.


12. Other penalties as appropriate, in football: (a) The institution reduced the fall of 2019 evaluations from 42 to 21; (b) The institution banned the football coaching staff from making telephone calls to involved prospective student-athletes from April 15 through May 31, 2019; (c) The institution banned the football coaching staff from making telephone calls to involved prospective student-athletes from September 10 through October 9, 2019; (d) The institution banned the assistant coach from engaging in off-campus recruiting for 30 days beginning September 1, 2019, of the fall of 2019 evaluation period; and (e) The institution issued letters of reprimand to involved coach and non-coaching staff members.


13. The institution imposed a 30-day off-campus recruiting ban on the head football coach beginning October 1, 2019, of the fall of 2019 evaluation period.


14. The institution imposed an off-campus recruiting ban on the head football coach for the first 10 days of the January 2020 contact period.

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