The new early national signing period is supposed to result in a Wednesday filled with optimism about programs from coast-to-coast and head coaches getting giddy about their incoming batch of freshmen.
While that may still be the case at South Carolina today, the school also received a bit of negative news they would have very much liked to avoid. That’s because the NCAA announced that the Gamecocks had committed recruiting violations in football and the Committee on Infractions had slapped some restrictions on the program as a result.
From the NCAA’s release:
The violations stemmed from the assistant coaches’ two separate visits to the high school to observe a football team’s workout during an evaluation period. While this evaluation is otherwise allowed under NCAA rules, the high school head football coach and strength and conditioning coach handpicked four prospects to perform drills exclusively for the assistant coach at the assistant coach’s request. One week later, the strength coach pulled three of the same four prospects aside to perform drills exclusively for the other assistant coach.
“Impermissible contacts and tryouts — no matter how few or brief — are an important matter to the membership,” the panel stated in its decision. “The violations confer an unfair advantage in the recruiting process on institutions that engage in them to the detriment of institutions that comply with the legislation.”
Penalties in the case aren’t anything major but are notable and include a $5,000 fine. The COI also upheld the school’s self-imposed sanctions, which include no longer being allowed to recruit the players involved, a reduction in the number (4) of evaluation days, no off-campus activities at the high school in question and the assistant coaches who committed the violations were not be allowed to recruit off campus for 42 days during the 2017 evaluation period.
The coaches involved were not named by the NCAA nor South Carolina.
All-in-all, not the end of the world in Columbia nor all that serious in the grand scheme of things but probably not the headline Will Muschamp wanted to have on a day like this.