SYRACUSE, NY - SEPTEMBER 26:  Detail of a LSU Tigers player helmet on the sideline during the game against the Syracuse Orange on September 26, 2015 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York.  LSU defeats Syracuse 34-24. 

NCAA grants LSU football one-year probation for ex-coach’s recruiting violation

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The NCAA placed LSU’s football program on one year probation Thursday after determining former offensive line coach James Cregg violated recruiting restrictions during the 2020 football season.

The NCAA Division I Infractions Committee found that Cregg violated restrictions against in-person contact with potential recruits during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided inappropriate inducements to a recruit.

The committee also issued a three-year “show cause” sentence against Cregg, meaning his own recruiting activities would be restricted during that time if he were hired by another NCAA member program.

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SYRACUSE, NY – SEPTEMBER 26: Detail of an LSU Tigers player helmet on the sideline during game against the Syracuse Orange on September 26, 2015 at Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY. LSU defeats Syracuse 34-24.
(Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

“While the (committee) has encountered more egregious behavior in previous cases, the violations in this case represent intentional misconduct that members should be concerned about,” the panel said. “The COVID-19 recruiting dead period was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, student-athletes and institutional staff. She also leveled the playing field for recruitment at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country. “

The investigation also involved a former deputy recruitment director, whose name has not been made public.

The NCAA is still conducting a separate investigation under its Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) into alleged recruiting violations by former LSU basketball coach Will Wade, who was fired after the season. latest, and on recall payments to football players made prior to recent rule changes allowing players to receive financial support agreements from program sponsors.

LSU fired Cregg in June 2021, citing alleged violations of NCAA recruiting rules. Cregg sued for breach of contract, arguing that he could not be fired for cause without an NCAA ruling on the allegations. A state district judge agreed, ordering LSU in August to pay Cregg $492,945 — the remainder of his contract.

LSU has announced its intention to appeal this court decision.

The NCAA investigation found that Cregg arranged to host a rookie and his family in September 2020 and gave the rookie a bag of used LSU gear.

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Marching band and LSU mascot perform as new football coach Brian Kelly arrives at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 19.  30, 2021, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Kelly, formerly of Notre Dame, reportedly agreed to a 10-year contract with LSU worth $95 million plus incentives.

Marching band and LSU mascot perform as new football coach Brian Kelly arrives at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 19. 30, 2021, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kelly, formerly of Notre Dame, reportedly agreed to a 10-year contract with LSU worth $95 million plus incentives.
(AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

The committee said the prospect and his family returned to LSU on another trip shortly after, when a former assistant recruiting director picked up the recruit and his girlfriend from their hotel and drove them to the Tiger Stadium for a visit. The tour was seen as a violation of inducement and in-person contact restrictions.

During this trip, Cregg met the rookie and his family in his neighborhood. The prospect’s mother had indicated she would move to Baton Rouge if her son played for LSU, and had sought Cregg’s advice on where to look for housing, the committee said.

Cregg and the assistant director of recruiting “acknowledged that they knew their conduct was inadmissible,” the NCAA committee said.

The other penalties the NCAA announced Thursday had already been self-imposed by LSU. These included a $5,000 fine, a limit of 55 official visits to football in the 2022-23 academic year, a one-week ban on unofficial visits to the football program before the year current academic year, a one-week ban on recruiting communications into the football program prior to the current academic year, and a reduction of seven evaluation days in the football program during the fall evaluation period 2021.

LSU said in a statement that the decision “concludes a 21-month cooperative process between the university and the NCAA.”

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February 14, 2015 - LSU flag blows in the wind over Alex Box Stadium during the game between LSU and Kansas at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA.  LSU defeats Kansas 8-5.  (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

February 14, 2015 – LSU flag blows in the wind over Alex Box Stadium during the game between LSU and Kansas at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA. LSU defeats Kansas 8-5. (Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

LSU “has worked together with law enforcement personnel to determine the truth and impose penalties on itself,” its statement said. “We are grateful to the committee and enforcement staff for their work and for accepting our self-imposed sanctions.”

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