Two weeks ago, the NCAA declared a mandatory recruiting dead period in response to the coronavirus shutdown of college sports, barring official and unofficial visits, contacts and evaluations while still permitting phone calls and text messages. But if you think that’s stopped everyone, Vice President of Enforcement Jon Duncan has this update.
“We have heard that recruiting is continuing,” Duncan said.
Even in times of global pandemic, there have been tips and complaints coming into the NCAA’s Indianapolis office about impermissible contacts, both with high school prospects and potential transfers. The latter could open up some schools to alleged tampering allegations.
That includes spring sports athletes impacted by the cancellation of their seasons. The NCAA has approved exploring the possibility of adding a year of eligibility for those athletes—and that in turn has led to impermissible inquiries from some schools.
In response to this, the NCAA has a message: cut it out. Just because college sports competition has ceased, the college sports investigators are not closing up shop.
“We are mindful of the circumstances and challenges on campus,” Duncan said. “But at the same time, we’re obligated to keep the infractions process moving.”
Duncan identified three specific areas of activity for his staff at present:
- “Protecting compliant schools during the dead period.” When informed of potential recruiting violations, Duncan has taken the complaints to the alleged offenders, contacting university leaders to let them know what’s being said about their employees. He said the schools have been generally receptive to the information and willing to take action.
- “Student-athlete academic well-being.” With in-person classes canceled and distance learning in place, the opportunities for academic fraud are plentiful. In a proactive move, the NCAA has sent a two-page reminder letter about academic bylaw parameters to member schools. “Enforcement would rather prevent a violation than process one,” Duncan said.
- Slowing, but not stopping, the processing of a “small number” of remaining major men’s basketball cases related to the federal probe of corruption within the sport. “We will keep the cases moving,” Duncan said, while remaining respectful of the pandemic-related hardships universities are facing.
Translation: it seems unlikely that Notices of Allegations will be delivered in the coming weeks while campuses are closed or in flux, even if they’re close to being completed. The major NOAs that seem likely to still be on the way: Louisville, Alabama, Arizona and LSU. Those already delivered: North Carolina State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, USC, TCU and South Carolina. Schools that likely have received NOAs but have not confirmed or denied: Creighton and Auburn.
Toward that end, Duncan said his Enforcement representatives will be watching and taking notes from the HBO documentary The Scheme, which will air March 31. The documentary tells the story of Christian Dawkins, the aspiring agent who was caught up in the middle of the federal investigation of college basketball. The movie contains some pertinent and potentially damaging audio exchanges between Dawkins and coaches Will Wade of LSU and Sean Miller of Arizona.
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