September 13, 2011
On paper, the charges levied against Boise State by the NCAA back in May didn't look like much: Literally, the Broncos were charged with arranging for prospective recruits to crash with current players during recruiting trips. But the allegations came accompanied by the four most dreaded words in college sports — "Lack of Institutional Control" — casting the severity of the NCAA's official verdict in some doubt.
That verdict arrived today in a 73-page report from the NCAA Committee on Infractions, and it did not come wielding a sledgehammer. Where the football program is concerned, it's closer to one of those little rubber reflex hammers doctors tap against your knee. Of the 18 violations outlined against the entire athletic program, only one specifically involves football:
2. RECRUITING VIOLATIONS; IMPERMISSIBLE HOUSING AND TRANSPORTATION. [NCAA Bylaws 13.2.1, 184.108.40.206-(h) and 13.5.1]
During the summers of 2005 through 2009, assistant football coaches and football staff members arranged summer housing and transportation in Boise, Idaho, for 63 then prospective student-athletes with then current student-athletes in order for the young men to participate in summer workouts. Specifically:
a. During the summers of 2005 through 2008, assistant football coaches and football staff members impermissibly arranged housing and transportation for 40 then prospective student-athletes prior to the young men's initial enrollment at the institution. These arrangements resulted in cost-free or discounted housing and transportation for the prospects.
b. During the summers of 2007 through 2009, assistant football coaches and football staff members impermissibly arranged housing and transportation for 23 prospective student-athletes prior to the young men's initial enrollment at the institution.
Translation: Coaches asked current players if recruits could crash at their place during recruiting trips, current players said "Sure." Occasionally , a recruit rode in a car with a player without offering gas money. Every now and then, a player would pick up a recruit's check at IHOP or something. Over five years, the documented "improper benefits" amounted to $4,934. For that, the football Broncos have been sentenced to:
1. Three years of probation from Sept. 13, 2011 (today) through Sept. 12, 2014.
2. Reduced scholarship limits (from 85 for the entire roster to 82) for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, on top of the reductions the school has already self-imposed for 2011-12.
3. Reduction of three preseason practices for the 2011 and 2012 seasons and three spring practice sessions per year through 2014.
It gets much hairier for the women's tennis and track-and-field programs, including "show cause" penalties for former coaches in both sports. The broad "lack of institutional control" label also played the key role in the unceremonious exit of athletic director Gene Bleymaier, who oversaw the arrival of the (in)famous blue turf in Bronco Stadium and the football program's rise to national prominence. But it's not going to stand in the way of Kellen Moore and Co.'s efforts at another banner season.