Once again, USL football finds itself under the microscope of the NCAA from the upside-down era of Ed Orgeron. On Thursday, the NCAA released the list of penalties under the Tigers program, stemming from reported recruiting violations committed by former Tigers assistant coach James Cregg.
LSU faces one year probation, a $5,000 fine, an official visitation limit, and a one-week self-imposed ban on unofficial visits to the football program before the start of the 2022-23 college year. .
The list also includes a one-week ban on recruiting communications into the football program before the start of the next academic year, a seven-day reduction in evaluation in the football program, and a three-year show cause order for Cregg, who is not named in the release. All penalties, except for the one-year probation and Cregg’s vindication, were self-imposed by the program.
“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 NCAA Division I Violations Committee said in its statement. “The COVID-19 recruiting dead 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 COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government varied across the country.”
If an NCAA program hires Cregg, they have to hold him back from everything. “off-campus recruiting activities unless he shows a reason why the restriction should not apply.” Cregg served as offensive line coach and rushing game coordinator at LSU from 2018-2020, helping the team to the College Football Playoff National Championship in the 2019 season.
He was fired in June 2021 for the alleged recruiting violations after Cregg inadmissibly met and gave team materials to a recruit during the recruiting dead period of COVID-19.
Cregg was not mentioned in a previous NCAA Notice of Allegations focused on both the football and men’s basketball programs, and the governing body had not previously charged the coach with any offence.
NCAA Violations Committee Chairman Dave Roberts pointed out that the larger case of LSU infractions go through a different decision-making body, the Independent Liability Resolution Process, and that it will be up to them “to decide if this decision has an impact on this case.
However, several NCAA infraction experts have said the Cregg case is likely an “aggravating factor” that could increase the risk of larger penalties in the IARP case. NCAA penalties can be increased by aggravating factors and decreased by mitigating factors. A history of major offenses at Level II or higher is a common aggravating factor.
“It’s going to be brought up, I’m sure, by the Critical Cases Unit (which investigated LSU),” said attorney Stu Brown, a veteran of NCAA infraction cases. Sports IllustratedIt’s Pat Forde. “I could see that being brought up as a negative for LSU.”
Brown added that while part of LSU’s argument in the joint men’s basketball and soccer case for lesser penalties focuses on “corrective action” taken since the investigation began, a second case major competitor could undermine this position.
Cregg filed a lawsuit against the school on August 21 for wrongful termination of his contract for cause. Last month, a Baton Rouge judge ruled in favor of Cregg, who was to receive $492,945.20 from the school, according to the Daily announcer.
LSU said it intends to appeal the court’s decision after the August ruling.
“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 school said in an August statement. “We had a contractual right and obligation to terminate this coach’s contract. Unfortunately, the trial court did not view this the same way. We intend to appeal this decision.
Cregg is currently the 49ers offensive line coach in his first stint in the NFL since 2017.
Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde contributed to this report.
More CFB coverage:
For more LSU coverage, go to LSU country.