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LSU hit with NCAA penalties for violating recruiting rules during pandemic

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LSU was hit with NCAA fines Thursday, but they weren’t linked to a scandal involving former men’s basketball head coach Will Wade.

Instead, the case concerns former assistant football coach James Cregg, who was fired in June 2021. Cregg, who served as the Tigers’ offensive line coach, dated the rookie during a dead period set by the NCAA during the COVID-19 pandemic. in the NCAA.

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In addition to Cregg, the former assistant director of recruiting at LSU met separately with a potential client during this dead period. According to the NCAA, both “provided unacceptable recruitment incentives to potential clients.”

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As a result, LSU was sentenced to one year of probation, a $5,000 fine, and multiple penalties for recruiting into the football program. These include limiting official visits to 55, a one-week ban on unofficial visits, a one-week ban on message recruitment, and a seven-day reduction in evaluation days.

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In addition, the NCAA sentenced Cregg to a three-year fine for showing cause.

Cragg was 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 with the San Francisco 49ers.

LSU, now in its first season under Brian Kelly, is starting 2-1 this season.

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

LSU violated recruitment rules during a pandemic

Problems arose for LSU when a recruit’s mother brought 14 prospects to the LSU campus in September 2020. According to the NCAA, football personnel knew the group was attending but were informed by compliance personnel that they could not have any personal contact. contact with recruits.

The mother of one recruit was planning to move to the Baton Rouge area if her son decided to play for LSU, so she asked about “potential areas to visit”. According to the NCAA, Cregg recommended several neighborhoods, including one where he lived, and arranged to “greet the prospect and their family as they drove through the neighborhood.” Cregg also “provided a bag of used LSU gear to a potential customer” from his home. Greeting the family violated dead period rules, and handing gear to a recruit violated NCAA rules to encourage recruitment.

A week later, the recruit and his family returned to the LSU campus. During this visit, LSU’s former Assistant Director of Recruitment “picked up the prospect and his girlfriend from the hotel and took them to the stadium for a tour.” The assistant director of recruiting later “returned to the prospect’s hotel and delivered some pieces of used LSU equipment to him.”

This violated contact rules, and free transportation and equipment are also considered inducements under NCAA rules.

During the second visit, the potential client and his family also met with Cregg and had a “short talk” outside of his home.

According to the NCAA, both the coach and the assistant director of recruiting “admitted to knowing their behavior was unacceptable.”

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

“Although [committee] experienced more egregious behavior in past cases, the violations in this case constitute intentional misconduct that should be of concern to members,” the commission’s decision reads. “The COVID-19 recruitment dead period was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, student-athletes, and institutional staff. It also leveled the playing field for hiring at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country.”

Cregg involved in litigation with LSU

Last month, a Baton Rouge judge ruled that LSU must pay Cregg the remaining salary owed under his contract in the amount of $492,945.20. The decision came after Cregg filed a lawsuit alleging that his LSU termination was unlawful.

According to the Lafayette Daily AdvertiserCregg’s lawsuit admits that a coach told an NCAA law enforcement official that “he met and gave team equipment to a prospect during the COVID dead period.”

Following the August decision, LSU said in a statement that it plans to appeal the decision.

From the Daily Advertiser:

“We are clearly disappointed by the court’s decision. We had a coach who admitted under oath to the NCAA that he contacted and passed the sports equipment to a recruit, despite the fact that compliance officers reported an existing period of no contact with recruits, ”the report says. “We had a contractual right and obligation to terminate the contract with this coach. Unfortunately, the trial court did not see this. We intend to appeal this decision.”


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