The investigation and the review of violations is over. And Rutgers came out of the grinder no worse for wear. The NCAA accepted virtually all of RU’s self-assessment and recommended penalties for the various violations that occurred during the tenure of former head coach Kyle Flood.
The fear of many fans, and even casual observers, was that the NCAA would react with a heavy hand. Much had been made of the lack of consequences imposed on North Carolina for its academic charades and the feeling was that Rutgers, not being a major force in athletics, would bear the brunt of the NCAA trying to reclaim some sort of moral higher ground with this investigation.
The timing of the release of this report might never be good, but it occurs the day before a significant game against Nebraska. With Nebraska dealing with its own internal issues - AD Scott Eichorst was fired yesterday and Head Coach Mike Riley is on the hottest of hot seats - many viewed the game as winnable by the Knights if things fell right. The NCAA not lowering the hammer on Rutgers avoids a major distraction for Head Coach Chris Ash, his staff, and his players. There were no scholarship reductions, nor any bowl ban, instituted by the NCAA.
In July, Rutgers officials, including AD Pat Hobbs, University President Robert Barchi, and Ash appeared before the NCAA Committee on infractions. They were joined by Flood and former Director of Sports Medicine Dr. Robert Monaco, both of whom were integral players in the issues surrounding the football program. Former AD Julie Hermann was not part of the investigation.
In April Rutgers responded as required by NCAA regulations. The school recommended a number of “self-imposed” sanctions, which the NCAA reviewed as part of its assessment of Rutgers’ liability. Here are Rutgers’ suggested penalties along with the NCAA’s reactions:
- A one-year period of probation to begin after the NCAA's final ruling NCAA Response: Two year probation from Sept. 22, 2017, through Sept. 21, 2019
- A $5,000 fine payable to the NCAA (this is a typical fine in such matters; RU followed past practices) NCAA Response: Accepted
- A reduction in the number of permissible, off-campus recruiting days by a total of 10: five days in the fall evaluation period and five days in the spring evaluation period during the 2017-18 academic year NCAA Response: Accepted
- A limitation of 36 official visits (for high school seniors and transfer students) in football during the 2017-18 academic year, a reduction by four from the average number of visits used during the four most recent academic years and 26 fewer than permitted under NCAA legislation NCAA Response: Accepted
- A probation on initiating telephone calls, contact via social media, and written correspondence with prospective student-athletes for a one-week period during the 2017-18 academic year NCAA Response: Accepted
The NCAA had originally categorized Rutgers’ violations as Level 2 violations in its four level listing of violations. These would be less serious than Level 1 and are defined as "violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws.''
Among the violations are:
- Flood provided former cornerback Nadir Barnwell with an impermissible extra benefit seeking special consideration for the player in an academic course; this included emails and a face-to-face meeting with the instructor
- failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance in the football program, violating the principles of NCAA head coach responsibility legislation.
- Rutgers failed to sanction 30 players when they failed their first drug test, and 16 were allowed to play "without being subjected to corrective or disciplinary actions" mandated by Rutgers' drug policy
From the NCAA decision as reported by Keith Sargeant: "The former head coach took a casual approach to compliance as it relates to the host program. He exercised little, if any, oversight of the group, permitting recruiting staff to administer the program with no supervision. As the individual who had ultimate oversight of all aspects of the football program, it is implicit that the head coach was also responsible for the actions of football hosts and, ultimately, the violations they committed."
Both Flood and former assistant Darrell Wilson also received a one-year show-cause period from Sept. 22, 2017, through Sept. 21, 2018. During that period, any NCAA member school employing them must show cause why he should not have restrictions on athletically related activity.
On the Banks will continue to monitor this story and bring updates as they arise.