The NCAA has concluded that Baylor’s slapping of in its own wrist when it came to recruiting violations was sufficient.
The Association affirmed Wednesday that two current Bears assistants, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and wide receivers coach Tate Wallis, committed the infractions and concluded that they had “exceeded the number of allowable recruiting evaluations for two prospects and had impermissible contact with one of the prospects.” Additionally, a third BU assistant, passing-game coordinator Jeff Lebby, was found to have conducted prohibited off-campus scouting by attending the game of a future opponent.
The NCAA chided Briles and Wallis for searching for recruiting loopholes in the spring of last year as it pertains to track meets.
Despite receiving education about recruiting rules, two assistant football coaches tried to find a loophole in the rules to allow them to be seen more by prospects in the spring. During one compliance session, a coach asked if the staff could attend a track meet and turn their backs when the prospect they wanted to be seen by was competing so the coaches could avoid having to log an evaluation for that prospect. Although the compliance office stated this would be allowable, the panel noted that counsel was ill-advised at best. It further noted that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a school to monitor when, or if, a coach attending a track meet looks down or turns away from a certain event to avoid evaluations of a prospect.
After receiving the guidance from compliance, the two assistant coaches attended track meets during the spring of 2015 and positioned themselves where contact with prospects was possible. Schools are limited to two evaluations per prospect in the spring evaluation period, so the three evaluations with one prospect and four evaluations with another violated NCAA rules.
In attending the prospects’ track meets, the panel stated the assistant coaches were trying to show the prospects they were important to the university, and because of the impermissible evaluations, the university gained an advantage over other schools that were following the recruiting rules.
“It is disappointing that the university’s coaching staff was more interested in finding loopholes to exploit the rules instead of trying to follow the rules,” said Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer for the panel and athletics director at Xavier University. “The assistant coaches could have easily avoided these violations if their focus had been following the rules rather than finding ways around them.”
That said, the NCAA accepted all of the penalties BU imposed on itself and didn’t add to them. Those self-imposed penalties included:
- A $5,000 fine.
- The football staff stopped recruiting one of the prospects for eight weeks (self-imposed by the university).
- The football staff stopped recruiting at track and field meets (self-imposed by the university).
- The two assistant coaches who exceeded evaluations were suspended for one game during the 2015-16 season (self-imposed by the university).
- The assistant coach who attended the future competitor’s game was suspended from the first half of one game during the 2015-16 season (self-imposed by the university).
- The two assistant coaches who exceeded evaluations were prohibited from off-campus recruiting for 12 weeks during the fall 2015 evaluation period
“Complying with NCAA regulation is a fundamental expectation of all Baylor coaches, staff, student-athletes and supporters,” a portion of a statement from athletic director Mack Rhoades read. As President David Garland shared with the Committee on Infractions, we have tremendous confidence in our well-established compliance program, yet we will continue to place great emphasis on this expectation and hold those individuals accountable in circumstances where non-compliance occurs.”
None of the coaches involved in the case are expected to be retained by new head coach Matt Rhule. All three will, though, coach in the Bears’ bowl game.
The NCAA also alluded to the sexual assault scandal at the school, stating “[t]his infractions case is limited to recruiting violations in the football program” and that “[t]he panel has not considered any additional information related to the university’s football program.”