The NCAA placed LSU’s football program on one-year probation and issued a three-year show cause against a former assistant coach, who it says admitted to meeting a prospect and giving him football equipment. team during a COVID-19 recruitment dead period.
The Tigers said they fired offensive line coach James Cregg for cause in June 2021 after he admitted violating NCAA rules. On August 25, a Louisiana judge awarded him nearly $500,000 after ruling that LSU terminated his contract without cause. At the time, the university announced its intention to appeal the judge’s decision.
In addition to probation, LSU had already imposed on itself a $5,000 fine, a one-week ban on recruiting communications and unofficial visits, and reductions in official visits and appraisal days.
LSU said in a statement, “Today’s decision by the NCAA Committee on Infractions involving a former LSU assistant football coach concludes a 21-month cooperative process between the University and the NCAA. Throughout Throughout this process, the University has worked with enforcement staff to determine the truth and impose sanctions on itself We are grateful to the Committee and enforcement staff for their work and for accepting our sanctions self-imposed, and we are pleased to be able to move forward as an institution and as the football organization LSU continues to work through the IARP process regarding other alleged rule violations.”
While the violations were not major in nature, the timing of the violations during the pandemic was a significant concern for the NCAA investigation.
“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 Committee on Infractions panel said in its ruling. 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. »
According to the NCAA Violations Report, a prospect’s mother arranged for a group of 14 rookies to go on an informal visit to the LSU campus in September 2020, which was then allowed under NCAA rules. The report said LSU officials met with football coaches, including Cregg, “emphasizing that staff could have no face-to-face contact with rookies.”
The NCAA report said the prospect’s mother plans to move to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, if her son attends LSU. She asked for recommendations on possible neighborhoods to visit.
“The former assistant coach recommended several neighborhoods, including his own, provided directions to his neighborhood, and arranged to greet the prospect and his family as they drove through the neighborhood, violating period rules. dead,” the NCAA report said. “During this meeting with the prospect and his family, the assistant coach also provided the prospect with a bag of used LSU equipment that he had collected from his home prior to his departure, which violated NCAA rules prohibiting recruitment incentives.
The following weekend, according to the NCAA report, an assistant recruiting director picked up the prospect and his girlfriend from a hotel and drove them to Tiger Stadium for a tour. The NCAA report states that “the prospect and his family again walked through the former assistant coach’s neighborhood. The assistant coach was in contact with the prospect’s mother as they approached and stood in front of his home to meet the family for a brief chat – another violation of the NCAA rules for in-person contact during an off period.”
The NCAA said the assistant director of scouting then returned to the prospect’s hotel and gave him some used LSU gear. The NCAA said the assistant director of recruiting violated NCAA rules for in-person contact during a time-out, accounting coaching rules due to off-campus recruiting contact by a non-coaching staff member, and rules regarding ineligible benefits.
Cregg’s infraction case was not part of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into LSU’s men’s football and basketball programs, which is being adjudicated through the independent liability resolution process.
On March 8, the university received a Notice of Allegations including eight alleged Tier I rule violations. Seven are believed to be related to the men’s basketball program. One relates specifically to soccer, and both sports share an allegation that “the institution failed to exercise institutional control and oversight over the conduct and administration of its soccer and basketball programs- masculine ball”.
There were also two Level II allegations – one for football and one for basketball – and one Level III for football.
The Tigers fired men’s basketball coach Will Wade on March 12. He is charged with five Level I violations and one Level II violation.
According to documents obtained by ESPN in August 2020, NCAA law enforcement personnel received information that Wade “arranged, offered, and/or provided ineligible payments, including cash payments, to at least least 11 potential men’s basketball student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or non-scholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects enrolling at LSU.”
LSU’s football program is also charged with three violations, including a Level I charge involving a Tigers booster embezzling more than $500,000 from a hospital foundation and donating some of the stolen money to the parents of two former players. football from LSU.
The Tigers are charged with a Level II violation involving NFL free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a former LSU star, who gave $2,000 cash to four Tigers football players on the field after the team’s 42-25 win over Clemson at College. National Football Playoff Championship in January 2020.
Cregg, who is now an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, helped guide the Tigers to a college football playoff national title in 2019. His unit won the Joe Moore Award as the best offensive line in the FBS that season.
ESPN lead writer Pete Thamel contributed to this report.