Former University of Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned this week after the NCAA received a photo of the coach sitting in a restaurant with a high school recruit during a mandated dead period in recruiting, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports.
Three sources told Yahoo Sports the photo was turned over to the NCAA by an individual with ties to the Miami Hurricanes athletics program. Should the NCAA determine Phillips improperly recruited during a mandated dead period, it could be considered a major NCAA violation.
"The NCAA does not comment on current, pending or potential investigations," NCAA spokesperson Emily James said.
A spokesperson at the University of Miami declined to comment. A spokesperson at the University of Florida did not immediately return a message.
Phillips abruptly stepped down from his position on Wednesday – despite reportedly working at Florida’s football camp that same morning. Considered an ace recruiter, Phillips’ departure was announced via a release from the school Wednesday afternoon, citing “personal reasons” for the decision. Phillips had served one season recruiting and coaching the Gators’ wideouts, after serving as the head coach of Kentucky from 2010-12.
Two sources told Yahoo Sports that the encounter was described to the NCAA as a violation of the “bump rule” – a scenario in which a coach unexpectedly comes across a recruit and has an impermissible dialogue. Such an instance is considered a secondary violation by the NCAA. However, the violation can graduate to something more serious if the contact between a coach and recruit is premeditated or arranged – such as a dinner or social gathering – in which the coach would be deemed to be purposefully violating the recruiting dead period.
Ironically, Phillips took the position at Florida after the Gators' previous wide receivers coach, Aubrey Hill, resigned his position for "personal reasons" in the wake of Yahoo Sports reports detailing his illicit contact with recruits while he was at the University of Miami. The NCAA determined Hill had committed violations with recruits and then subsequently provided false information to investigators, and penalized him with a two-year show-cause finding. Hill has been out of college football since resigning his position at Florida.