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 served as the Tigers’ offensive line coach, met with a rookie during the indie period mandated by the NCAA during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the NCAA.
In addition to Cregg, a former assistant recruiting director for LSU separately met with the prospect during this dead time. Both “provided the prospect with impermissible recruiting incentives,” according to the NCAA.
As a result, LSU was hit with a year’s probation, a $5,000 fine, and a series of football program recruiting penalties. These include a limit on official visits to 55, a one-week ban on unofficial visits, a one-week ban on recruitment communications and a seven-day reduction in assessment days.
Additionally, Cregg was given a three-year penalty by the NCAA.
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 off to a 2-1 start this season.
LSU violated recruiting rules during the pandemic
The issues arose for LSU when a rookie mother brought 14 prospects to the LSU campus in September 2020. According to the NCAA, football staff were aware the group was visiting but were notified by the compliance staff that he could not have in-person contact. contact with recruits.
The rookie mother planned to move to the Baton Rouge area if her son chose to play for LSU, so she asked about “potential neighborhoods to visit.” According to the NCAA, Cregg recommended several neighborhoods, including the one where he lived, and arranged 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. Saluting the family violated off-time rules while giving away the rookie gear violated NCAA rules on recruiting inducements.
A week later, the rookie and his family were back on the LSU campus. During that visit, the former LSU assistant recruiting director “picked up the prospect and his girlfriend from their hotel and drove them to the stadium for a tour.” The Assistant Director for Recruiting later “returned to the prospect’s hotel and delivered several items of used LSU equipment to the prospect.”
This violated contact rules and the free transportation and equipment is also considered inducement by NCAA rules.
During the second visit, the prospect and his family also met Cregg and had a “brief conversation” outside his home.
According to the NCAA, the coach and assistant director of recruiting “acknowledged that they knew their conduct was inadmissible.”
In a statement, the NCAA Division I Infractions Committee Committee acknowledged that these violations were not too serious, but the fact that they occurred during the dead period of COVID-19 “should be of concern”. NCAA members.
“Although the [committee] has encountered more egregious conduct in past cases, the violations in this case represent intentional misconduct that members should be concerned about,” the panel said in its ruling. “The COVID-19 dead recruitment period was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, 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 embroiled in lawsuit with LSU
Last month, a Baton Rouge judge ruled that LSU must pay Cregg the outstanding salary on his contract — a sum of $492,945.20. The decision came after Cregg filed a lawsuit claiming his termination for cause at LSU was improper.
According to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Cregg’s lawsuit admitted that the coach told an NCAA law enforcement official that “he met and delivered team equipment to a prospect during the dead period of recruitment of COVID”.
After the August ruling was announced, LSU said in a statement that it plans to appeal the decision.
From the Daily Announcer:
“We are clearly disappointed with the court’s decision. We asked a coach to admit under oath to the NCAA that he had contacted and given sports equipment to a rookie when he had been informed by staff of compliance of an existing no-contact period with recruits,” the statement read. “We had a contractual right and obligation to terminate this coach’s contract. Unfortunately, the trial court did not see this the same way. We intend to appeal this decision.