The investigation of Central Florida’s athletic program by the NCAA over multiple recruiting allegations spanning two sports is officially over.
The Knights’ athletic troubles, however, are not.
In a Tuesday release, the NCAA announced that UCF’s athletic program allowed “impermissible recruiting activity undertaken by… third parties, who through their activity became athletics representatives of UCF.” The activities were “both known by athletics department personnel, and, in some cases encouraged.”
The NCAA investigation determined that Ken Caldwell, a recruiter for a professional sports agency, provided more than $16,000 to three prospects and two UCF student-athletes. The investigation also found ex-UCF Athletics Director Keith Tribble engaged in unethical activity and “failed to take steps to prevent the involvement of boosters in recruiting activities” — among other violations.
As a result, the NCAA hit the UCF football program with a one-year postseason ban and reduction of five initial (from 25 maximum) and five total (from 85 maximum) football scholarships for three academic years. Additionally, the athletics program will be fined $50,000 and placed on five years probation. Tribble was given three-year “show cause” penalties, while former receivers coach David Kelly was given a one-year penalty of the same category.
The NCAA also determined UCF “exhibited a lack of institutional control and was responsible for impermissible recruiting activities and extra benefits.”
Other recruiting sanctions include:
- A reduction of two full-time football coaches permitted to recruit off-campus during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years
- A reduction in the available number of recruiting person days by nine in the fall football evaluation period and 34 in the spring football evaluation period during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (self-imposed by the university)
- Football official paid visits are limited to 30 for each of the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years.
The Knights are the preseason favorites to win the Conference USA title before making the move to the Big East. Given the NCAA’s sanctions, however, they won’t be able to leave the conference on a high note.
It’s official: there are currently eight openings (for now) at head coach in the FBS.
The latest to officially face the coaching guillotine is Paul Haynes, who Kent State announced Wednesday afternoon would not have his contract renewed, confirming reports that had surfaced earlier in the day. Haynes wrapped up his fifth, and what turned out to be final season with the Golden Flashes with a 24-14 loss to rival and MAC East champion Akron Tuesday night.
“Making a coaching change is never easy,” athletic director Joel Nielsen said in a statement. “As an alum, Paul gave his all for this university and to Golden Flashes football, and moved the program forward in many ways. We thank Paul and his family for their service and commitment to Kent State student-athletes.”
In 2012, the year prior to Haynes’ arrival, Kent went 11-3. In the five years under Haynes, they were 14-45 overall. The Golden Flashes won either two or three games each of the past four seasons, including a 2-10 mark in 2017.
That stretch of 10 wins is the worst four-year run for the program since they won six from 1997-2000. That was part of a lost decade-plus that saw the Golden Flashes win a combined 16 games in 12 seasons (1989-2000).
It really is looking like a two-school race for Chip Kelly‘s services.
On the heels of a weekend meeting with Florida officials in New Hampshire, Kelly also reportedly sat down with a contingent from UCLA this week regarding their head coach opening. It’s been widely thought that, in the coming days — especially if the Gators have anything to say about it — Kelly would decide between UF and UO and likely not entertain interest from other programs.
In that vein, and citing a person with knowledge of the situation, George Schroeder of USA Today is reporting that Kelly recently turned down an offer from one SEC school and rebuffed the advances from a Big Ten program.
Kelly turned down a recent offer from Tennessee, the person said. He is also believed to have turned away interest from Nebraska.
While two schools are seemingly in the mix at the moment, Schroeder is also reporting that Arizona State, should it come open, would also be of interest to the former Oregon head coach. Th earliest ASU would shed themselves of Todd Graham would be Saturday night as they square off with rival Arizona that afternoon.
Regardless of where Kelly lands, the current ESPN analyst is set to get paid as it’s believed that the offers he has received are in the neighborhood of $6 million annually. As Schroeder and other media outlets have pointed out, though, there could be a sticking point with one of the two schools that have Kelly as its top target as UCLA’s apparel provider is Under Armour. Kelly still maintains a close relationship with Phil Knight, the founder of Nike and whose company is Under Armour’s biggest rival.
While that dynamic is thought of as a sticking point, it’s not believed to be a deal breaker.
And another one bites the dust. Reportedly.
FootballScoop.com was the first to report Wednesday morning that Paul Haynes has been let go as the head football coach at Kent State. The Associated Press subsequently confirmed the initial report, noting that the Golden Flash players were informed of the move earlier today.
The not-yet-official move to part ways with Haynes is far from surprising as the former Ohio State and Arkansas assistant is just 14-45 during his five seasons at the school. For perspective, the Golden Flashes won 11 games in 2011, the year before Haynes’ arrival.
With Haynes’ ouster, there are now eight FBS head coach openings, with KSU joining Florida, Georgia Southern, Ole Miss, Oregon State, South Alabama, Tennessee, UCLA and UTEP.
Not even through his first full season as head coach, and P.J. Fleck has already been rewarded for his work.
Minnesota announced Wednesday morning that it has reached an agreement on a contract extension with Fleck into 2023. The 36-year-old head coach originally signed a five-year contract with the school, making this a two-year extension.
A December meeting of the school’s Board of Regents will rubber stamp the extension and make it official.
“It’s an honor to coach at the University of Minnesota and in the Big Ten,” said Fleck in a statement. “[athletic director] Mark Coyle and I share the same goal of building a championship culture and team at Minnesota. It’s a goal that we are working on daily together and one that we will achieve. I am proud of how hard our young men have worked to improve this season on living a holistic life. They have taken great strides in bettering themselves athletically, academically, socially and spiritually. I look forward to leading them and watching them grow on and off the field as we continue to move this program forward.”
In his first season at Minnesota after coming to the Big Ten program from Western Michigan, Fleck has the Gophers at 5-6. Fleck took over a team that won nine games in 2016, and, if they fail to beat fifth-ranked Wisconsin Saturday, would have their fewest wins in a season since going 3-9 in Jerry Kill‘s first year in 2011.
On the flip side, his five wins are the first for a first-year Gophers coach since Murray Warmath won seven games in 1954. Additionally, he became the first coach to win his Gophers debut since John Gutekunst did the same back in 1986.
“When we hired Coach Fleck, I talked about his authentic energy and passion, and his dedication to building a unique team culture. This year, I have seen our students connect with his energy and embrace that culture,” Coyle said in his statement. “From the commitment and hard work of our current students, to building a nationally-ranked recruiting class that will be among the best in program history, I have seen the foundation of what Coach Fleck is building, and I’m looking forward to supporting him for years to come.”