Central Florida will have to sit out the postseason for a year in men's basketball and football under sanctions the NCAA handed down Tuesday, adding to penalties the school self-imposed after major recruiting violations were uncovered last year in both programs.
Central Florida will have to sit out the postseason for a year in men’s basketball and football under sanctions the NCAA handed down Tuesday, adding to penalties the school self-imposed after major recruiting violations were uncovered last year in both programs.
UCF also was cited for “a lack of institutional control” and fined $50,000.
The penalties were in addition to adding two years to UCF’s previously proposed three years’ probation, vacating basketball victories, a reduction in basketball scholarships and tighter limits on football recruiting visiting days.
UCF accepted the additional penalties.
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All the punishments stem from a 2011 investigation that found the programs were involved with runners for sports agents and made cash payments to recruits.
Former athletics director Keith Tribble and assistant football coach David Kelly were cited for unethical conduct by the NCAA last year and resigned. Basketball coach Donnie Jones served a three-game suspension.
Rules compliance has been an issue at UCF before. The school just got off two years of NCAA probation in February, after football staff members were cited for placing impermissible calls to perspective recruits over an 18-month period from 2007 to 2009.
Due to that previous major violation, the school is considered a repeat offender, which is the reason it faced stiffer penalties for these latest infractions.
UCF is in the process of preparing to move to the Big East Conference in 2013 as an all-sports member. The NCAA’s ruling now casts a pall over the Knights’ final season in Conference USA.
UCF football was picked to win Conference USA’s East Division in a preseason media poll after coming off a disappointing 5-7 season in 2011.
The NCAA’s investigation began last year following media reports of UCF officials and athletes had involvement with a man named Ken Caldwell, a reputed recruiter for a professional sports agency, and associate Brandon Bender.
Specifically, the NCAA said in a notice of allegations to UCF last August that Caldwell and Bender “assisted the institution in the recruitment of six men’s basketball players and five football perspective student-athletes” through inducements including cash payments.
It also said that Tribble, Caldwell and Jeff Lagos, a “known representative of the institution’s athletics interests, attempted to arrange employment” for people involved.
The NCAA said in its findings Tuesday that it was evident that Caldwell “was making an effort to develop a network of relationships with prospective student-athletes and, in turn, expand his sphere of influence within the collegiate coaching community.”
Former basketball player A.J. Rompza, who graduated from UCF last year, was the only athlete that ever wound up playing a game at UCF, however.
In imposing its own penalties in February, UCF also acknowledged a lack of sufficient compliance within its programs, which it said were being addressed with the hiring of new athletic director Todd Stansbury in January.
At his news conference announcing Tribble’s resignation, UCF president John Hitt said that the school had put a lot of trust in him to assure they were in compliance with NCAA rules.
In a written response through his attorney in February to the NCAA’s allegations Tribble acknowledged some improprieties, but claimed that until this case he “had a very superficial and somewhat misinformed understanding of NCAA recruiting legislation.”
In March, Stansbury announced an increase in compliance staffing in hopes of setting a new tone to assure UCF’s coaches that it is a priority going forward.
But now with the postseason bans, the Knights’ final football and basketball seasons in Conference USA won’t include a championship.
Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/khightower.