Notre Dame’s football program violated NCAA rules related to contact with recruits.
The NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions released a ruling on Thursday, detailing impermissible contact with a recruit by a former Notre Dame assistant coach. According to the NCAA, the coach “met privately with the prospect at his high school” before the beginning of the contact period — “before July 1 after the completion of his junior year of high school.”
“During that meeting, the former assistant coach expressed the school’s interest in recruiting the prospect. The former assistant coach also had exchanged impermissible text messages with another prospect on 10 occasions,” an NCAA release says.
Additionally, there was a minor violation committed by head coach Brian Kelly for posing for a photo with a recruit during a visit to the player’s high school. This incident was deemed a Level III violation, the least serious on the NCAA scale for infractions.
In sum, the school will receive Level II mitigated penalties after negotiating a resolution with the NCAA. As part of the “negotiated resolution process” instead of a formal infractions hearing, “the involved coaches and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties.”
Details of Notre Dame’s NCAA violations
The NCAA said the former Notre Dame assistant coach met with the recruit privately, discussed Notre Dame’s interest in him, the value of a Notre Dame education and the “defensive schemes” the team uses.
The coach also sent 10 impermissible text messages to a recruit from the class of 2021. The coach told the NCAA he believed the recruit was from the class of 2020.
Between July 17 and August 9, 2019, the assistant football coach violated NCAA recruiting communication legislation by sending 10 impermissible text messages to a 2021 football prospective student-athlete prior to September 1 of the beginning of his junior year in high school. Specifically, the assistant football coach mistakenly believed him to be a 2020 prospect and sent him one text message July 17, 2019; three text messages August 7, 2019; and six text messages August 9, 2019.
With respect to Kelly’s violation, the NCAA said the Fighting Irish’s head coach initially declined to take the photo with the prospect before he “ultimately allowing the photo.”
On October 18, 2019, the head football coach had an impermissible off-campus recruiting contact with a 2021 football prospective student-athlete at his high school in Pickerington, Ohio, before July 1, following the completion of his junior year in high school. Specifically, while visiting Pickerington during the fall football evaluation period, the head football coach was being escorted through the high school's cafeteria when the football prospective student-athlete recognized the head football coach and requested a photo with him. The head football coach initially declined, but ultimately allowed the photo.
Notre Dame’s NCAA penalties
The penalties for Notre Dame include one year of probation, a $5,000 fine, reduced official and unofficial visits for the 2020-21 academic year and a seven-day off-campus recruiting ban for the football staff. Notre Dame also agreed to end its recruitment of the prospect in question.
Additionally, Notre Dame agreed not to recruit any prospects from that particular high school “from the 2019-20 through 2021-22 academic years.” The NCAA said the high school in question is located in Seattle.
The former assistant coach involved in the violations has been hit with a six-month show-cause penalty that includes a one-game suspension should the assistant retain employment at another university. The coach was not identified in the report.
The NCAA said the penalties that have not been able to be served due to COVID-19 “must be served at the next available opportunity.”
In a statement, Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the university believes the penalties “exceeded the nature of the infractions.”
“Any violation of NCAA rules is unacceptable and Notre Dame Athletics takes full responsibility for its actions in this regard. While we made clear to the NCAA our view that the agreed-upon penalties exceeded the nature of the infractions, we accept the final outcome of the case,” Swarbrick said. “In addition, the assistant coach involved is no longer employed by the university.”
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