Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi is under investigation by both Washington and USC (his prospective employer) for allegedly paying for online classes and tutoring for a recruit, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.
The allegations involve defensive lineman Andrew Basham, who signed with the Huskies last February but failed to qualify academically. If the allegations are found to be true, Lupoi would be guilty of a major NCAA violation, which could also result in trouble for his former boss, current USC coach Steve Sarkisian.
Mike Davis, a throwing coach who helped Basham win a state shotput title, told The Times that Tosh Lupoi, Washington’s defensive line coach, gave him $3,000 to cover private tutoring for Basham through a test preparation company. Davis said he also received $1,500 from Lupoi to reimburse Basham’s father for online classes Andrew could use to raise his grade-point average.
NCAA rules prohibit universities from paying for a prospect’s academic services. Head coaches are required to “promote an atmosphere of compliance” and are held responsible for the actions of assistant coaches and administrators who report, directly or indirectly, to them.
Be sure to read the whole story as it details the sneaky ways Lupoi passed cash to Davis.
Lupoi got his start at Cal, where he played in the early 2000s before coaching under Jeff Tedford. He earned a reputation as a great recruiter, bringing to Berkeley such national recruits as Keenan Allen and Chris Martin. He was then hired away to Washington by Sarksian in 2012 and had a hand in getting 5-star recruit Shaq Thompson to switch his commitment from the Bears to the Huskies. While he’s respected for his ability to relate to recruits, he’s long been suspected in recruiting circles of playing fast and loose with NCAA rules.
Now that Sarkisian has been hired by USC, the thought was that Lupoi might join him on staff. However, the USC compliance office is unlikely to let that happen now — “less than zero” is how a source from USC characterized those chances to the Times reporter.
If these allegations have any credence, it would mean major egg on the face of Trojans athletic director Pat Haden, who crowed about Sarkisian being “a good fit” for USC when he announced the hire a couple weeks ago. With USC still in the throes of NCAA probation, hiring a coach who himself hired an assistant who passed around cash to recruits and their coaches would not be a good thing, especially if Sarkisian is found to be culpable for failing to promote an atmosphere at Washington that respects NCAA rules.
It’s not easy to create a mess for two programs at once, but Lupoi appears to be well on his way.
Photo courtesy of Washington athletics.