The scope of the NCAA's investigation of Arizona State continues to widen, as the school has placed two more assistant football coaches on paid administrative leave.
Wide receivers coach Prentice Gill and defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins have been placed on paid administrative leave by the university, sources told Yahoo Sports. ASU confirmed that both were placed on leave on Monday morning. The university declined further comment, saying it’s policy not to comment beyond employment status.
Hawkins and Gill join tight ends coach Adam Breneman, who was put on paid leave in late July. All three were implicated in the allegations that led to the NCAA investigation. Gill is the program’s assistant recruiting coordinator.
With camp underway, head coach Herm Edwards is faced with replacing 30% of his on-field coaching staff as questions mount about his management and oversight of the program. Arizona State enters the season returning nearly all of its starters and with grand expectations, but must scramble to replace two more position coaches during camp.
The move to suspend Hawkins and Gill isn't a surprise. They were each named in the dossier of evidence of alleged NCAA rule breaking sent to the NCAA enforcement staff and Arizona State officials.
The documents in the dossier, which have been viewed by Yahoo Sports and detailed in June, allege how both Hawkins and Gill potentially broke NCAA rules by helping arrange visits for prospects during the NCAA dead period that came because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
An email in the document shows Hawkins forwarded a plane ticket to the guardian of a prospect in Florida to take a visit during an NCAA-mandated dead period when visits aren’t allowed. In a phone interview with Yahoo in June, Hawkins denied both paying for and helping arrange the trip. “I’ve never paid a kid,” he said. “I’ve never paid for a flight.”
The dossier also includes the screenshot of an American Airlines flight itinerary emailed to Gill for a prospect to travel from St. Louis to Phoenix on Dec. 4. In a phone interview with Yahoo in June, Gill denied receiving an email from American Airlines and said, “I’ve never bought a kid anything.”
None of the three suspended assistant coaches had any on-field Power Five coaching experience before being promoted or hired at Arizona State. Gill and Hawkins, sources told Yahoo Sports, worked closely in recruiting with defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce. Multiple sources have told Yahoo Sports that Pierce’s aggressive recruiting tactics were either embraced by coaches or they were ostracized and had responsibilities stripped away.
The NCAA investigation is unfolding as expected. NCAA investigators and ASU compliance were handed specific targets and allegations. Only a few of the players mentioned in the dossier either attend or are committed to Arizona State. That has left the NCAA the opportunity to offer players and prospects immunity, and their lack of affiliation with ASU only further incentivizes them to tell the truth. Since the NCAA controls the eligibility of the players and prospects, they are generally compelled to cooperate.
Breneman was placed on leave in late July. There’s documentation in the dossier that alleges a credit card belonging to Breneman paid $596.20 to purchase a ticket for a recruit to travel from Philadelphia to Phoenix for a visit on July 25, 2020, during the NCAA dead period. Breneman was a graduate assistant at the time the ticket was purchased.
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