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Breaking: ASU and NCAA reach agreement on football recruiting violations

ASU and four individuals previously associated with the football program have reached an agreement regarding recruiting violations in the COVID-19 dead period


Outside of Mountain America Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023 in Tempe.

According to an NCAA announcement on April 19, ASU and four individuals previously associated with the football program have reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff concerning recruiting violations.

According to the press release, agreed-upon violations include impermissible in-person recruiting contacts during the COVID-19 dead period, recruiting inducements, impermissible tryouts, and tampering. The NCAA Committee on Infractions’ support of the resolution statement between ASU and enforcement staff ends the University’s role in the investigation. 

According to the NCAA statement, ASU agreed that it failed to monitor its football program.

“The COVID dead period rules were created not only for the sake of competitive equity but for the safety and well-being of prospective and enrolled student-athletes and their families,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a statement. “ASU is disappointed and embarrassed by the actions of certain former football staff members who took advantage of a global pandemic to hide their behavior.”

Penalties in the case include four years of probation, a fine, ASU’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2023 season, vacation of records for contests ineligible student-athletes competed in, scholarship reductions, and recruiting restrictions in alignment with Level I-mitigated classification. Level I classifications are for the most severe breaches of conduct.

READ MORE: ASU self-imposing one year postseason ban on football team

In addition to ASU’s penalties, the University disassociated with a booster for five years. ASU and the four individuals will immediately begin serving their penalties.

"Arizona State's cooperation throughout the investigation and processing of this case was exemplary, and the cooperation began with the leadership shown by the university president," executive director of athletics compliance at Oklahoma and chief hearing officer for the Committee on Infractions panel Jason Leonard said in the announcement. "The school's acceptance of responsibility and decision to self-impose meaningful core penalties is a  model for all schools to follow and is consistent with the expectations of the NCAA's infractions program."

READ MORE: ASU defends decision to self-impose bowl ban

The committee’s final decision, which could list other potential violations and additional penalties, is still pending. That decision will include findings and penalties for two unnamed individuals who processed their cases via written record.

Today’s announcement comes after ASU addressed alleged recruiting violations committed by the staff of former head coach Herm Edwards. The recruiting scandal came to light when an anonymous former ASU staff member provided evidence to the NCAA. 

READ MORE: Herm Edwards to take 50% buyout of remaining salary, plus benefits and academic bonus

Yahoo Sports reported that the alleged violations stemmed from former associate head coach Antonio Pierce, now the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Pierce resigned in February 2022. 

Former offensive coordinator Zak Hill and tight ends coach Adam Breneman resigned the week before because of the case. Wide receivers coach Prentice Gill and defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins were fired for cause that same week.

ASU responded to the scandal with a self-imposed one-year bowl ban for the 2023 season. The ban also affected head coach Kenny Dillingham’s contract. His contract stated that if the NCAA were to impose a ban, “ASU will request (Arizona Board of Regents') approval of an extension of Coach’s contract for each year such sanctions are in effect, with each additional year including the annual salary increase of $100,000."

Crow said that ASU acted quickly to cooperate fully with the NCAA from start to finish. The University believes it did everything it could to limit punishments to those defined by the infractions committee.

“It is clear from the level of the penalties imposed and from the comments from the committee that ASU’s conduct during the investigation and its culture of compliance helped the university mitigate penalties that most certainly could have been significantly higher and would have impacted the program for years,” ASU senior vice president and interim athletic director James Rund said.

Edited by Shane Brennan and Walker Smith

Editor's note: This story is developing and may be updated.

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