LSU hit NCAA penalties for violating recruiting rules during pandemic

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

Instead, the case involves former assistant football coach James Cregg, who was fired in June 2021. Cregg, who was the Tigers’ offensive line coach, met with a recruit during the NCAA-mandated dead period during of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the NCAA.

In addition to Cregg, a former LSU assistant director of recruiting met with the prospect during that dead period. Both “provided impermissible recruiting inducements to the prospect,” according to the NCAA.

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

In addition, the NCAA issued a three-year suspension to Cregg for show cause.

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 2-1 this season.

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

LSU violated recruiting rules during the pandemic

The issues came to light for LSU when the mother of a recruit brought 14 prospects to LSU’s campus in September 2020. According to the NCAA, the football team was aware the group was visiting but was told by the compliance team that it was not they could have anyone. contact with the recruits.

One 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 suggested several neighborhoods, including the one where he lived, and decided 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. The family greeting violated the dead period rules and the recruiting kit violated the NCAA’s rules on recruiting inducement.

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

That was a violation of the contact rules and the free transportation and equipment is considered an inducement according to 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 “admitted that they knew their conduct was unsanctioned.”

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

“Although the [committee] having dealt with more egregious behavior in previous cases, the violations in this case constitute intentional misconduct that should be of concern to the membership,” the panel said in its decision. expectations, sons student-athletes and institutional staff. It also leveled the playing field for recruiting at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country.”

Cregg was involved in a lawsuit with LSU

Last month, a Baton Rouge judge ruled that LSU must pay the remaining salary owed on his contract – the sum of $492,945.20. The ruling came after Cregg filed a lawsuit claiming his termination for cause at LSU was illegitimate.

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

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

From the Daily Advertiser:

“We are obviously disappointed by the court’s ruling. A coach admitted to the NCAA under oath that he contacted and gave athletic equipment to a recruit despite being advised by the compliance team that there was a current no-contact period with recruits,” the release states. terminate this coach’s contract. Unfortunately, the trial court did not see this the same way. We intend to appeal this decision.”

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