Iowa State football, basketball guilty of major NCAA violations
- Report shows that school’s athletic coaches made 1,484 impermissible phone calls to recruits
- Rules violations involve more than 33 coaches and every athletic program, dating back to spring of 2011
- NCAA has identified 79 violations for which it will discipline Iowa State
Iowa State University athletic coaches made 1,484 impermissible phone calls to recruits and has agreed that it has committed “major violations” of NCAA rules, according to documents made public Wednesday.
The rules violations involve more than 33 coaches and every athletic program at the university and date back to the spring of 2011, according to the a finding of facts that both Iowa State and the NCAA agree upon.
The school has recommended that the NCAA place it on probation for two years, among other penalties.
“We’ve been committed to being as transparent as possible throughout this entire process, which has been challenging given it has been an ongoing investigation and we did not receive the final report until this week,” Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard said in a statement. Iowa State first issued a press release about NCAA violations last week.
It appears the NCAA has identified 79 violations for which it will discipline the school. The report made public Wednesday states that “numerous violations occurred and the monitoring processes in place at the time failed to detect this ongoing, deficient practice.”
The report describes a “systemic failure” and states that “the institution’s coaches generally reported a lack of knowledge of the need to log all calls, even calls where no contact occurred or voicemail messages were left.”
Six current and former coaches — all in men’s basketball or football — were highlighted in the report for breaking rules.
Five coaches are currently on staffs at Iowa State or other schools. They could face penalties but are contesting that their violations were secondary in nature, not major. Those five: Iowa State assistant football coaches Shane Burnham and Bill Bleil; former football assistants Luke Wells and Bob Elliott; and former assistant basketball coach Daniyal Robinson.
Elliott is an assistant football coach at Notre Dame, Wells is an assistant at Utah State and Robinson is an assistant basketball coach at Houston.
Iowa State officials and coaches did not comment or could not be reached Wednesday evening. “We are continuing to refrain from public comment about the case in order to protect the integrity of the case,” said Tim Day, the university’s faculty athletics representative. “Public statements about our case can be perceived as attempts to affect the process.”
Notre Dame, however, issued the following statement regarding Elliott:
“Coach Bob Elliott has worked with the NCAA to provide details and ensure a full and accurate understanding of his role and the context of his involvement with the matter at Iowa State. Based on the nature of those violations, most of them inadvertent, we are confident that Coach Elliott shares Notre Dame’s unwavering commitment to NCAA rules. We believe that the sanctions already imposed by Iowa State and the steps taken by Notre Dame are appropriate and sufficient.”
Former student assistant basketball coach Keith Moore was the sixth coach involved. He was relieved of his job shortly after his involvement was discovered by men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, the documents released Wednesday stated.
Moore could not immediately be reached for comment.
The investigation started in the spring of 2011 when Hoiberg discovered Moore had improperly contacted prospective recruits. The report said Hoiberg was at one of his son’s AAU basketball games when he ran into Moore. Based on NCAA rules, Hoiberg could legally be at the event because his son was a player, but Moore could not.
The report said Moore was later found to have sent 160 impermissible text messages and placed 12 impermissible telephone calls between August 2010 and August 2011.
The internal investigation cost the university nearly $30,000, according to invoices to Iowa State.
The Compliance Group, a Lenexa, Kan.,-based company charged the school a total of $29,744.30.
The university has made payments to the company between Feb. 28, 2011 and June 30, 2012. The statement shows investigator Chuck Smrt billed Iowa State for services on 12 dates in September 2011 and made at least three phone calls to the NCAA that month — months before the school informed the State Board of Regents that it had NCAA violations.
State Board of Regents President Craig Lang told the Des Moines Register last week that the Regents were informed of the school’s NCAA problems in January 2012.
Why NCAA calls violations ‘major’
The analysis by the NCAA enforcement staff contends that the “coaches named and at-risk should be found responsible for major violations because the violations were not isolated or inadvertent, and, based on the large number of impermissible calls, provided more than a minimal recruiting advantage.”
The NCAA’s report went on to say that:
“The total impermissible calls placed by the coaches was quite significant and the enforcement staff has consistently processed allegations as major that involve such a large number of calls.
“Even if the staff only took into account the culpable calls in determining whether to process the violations as major or secondary, the enforcement staff has processed allegations as major where individuals had placed fewer impermissible calls than those … placed by coaches involved in this case.
” … Based on the large number of culpable calls for each coach, the enforcement staff believes that the calls were not inadvertent.”
The report continued: “The (NCAA enforcement) staff believes that as with most telephone call violations, the fact that the coaches were calling more often than other coaches resulted in more than a minimal recruiting advantage.”
Iowa State: Violations are not all ‘major’
While Iowa State and the NCAA agreed that “the case as a whole constitutes a major infractions case,” the school has contended that “some findings standing alone should be found to be secondary violations.”
In its initial report to the NCAA on Nov. 23, 2011, Iowa State argued that the violations should be deemed secondary because it thought the university “received a limited, if any, competitive and recruiting advantage” as a result of the impermissible calls and texts.
Iowa State also argued:
— Nearly 82% of the impermissible calls were 3 minutes or less, which resulted in no contact between the coaching staff members and the prospect.
— Coaching staff members did not deliberately violate rules.
— Student-athletes interviewed during the investigation indicated their choice of institution was not affected by additional telephone calls.
The university’s internal investigation notes that some violations were made by former football coach Gene Chizik, former basketball coach Greg McDermott and former wrestling coach Cael Sanderson — as well as dozens of current coaches, including head football coach Paul Rhoads, women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly and Hoiberg.
None of those coaches face NCAA sanctions, according to the report.
Iowa State said Rhoads, whose first year was in 2009, made 92 impermissible calls (11 were deemed “true” violations by the school); Fennelly was found to have made 23 impermissible calls (two were considered “true” violations) and Hoiberg made 10 improper calls (three were called “true” violations).
Iowa State has taken several corrective actions, along with recommending the athletic department be placed on probation. Others include recruiting restrictions on every sport and investing $82,000 over three years in compliance and recruiting software.
The NCAA has yet to determine Iowa State’s final punishment, and no hearing date has been made public.
At Baylor last year, an internal investigation uncovered more than 1,200 phone calls and text messages in violation of NCAA policy over a 29-month span. The university and NCAA enforcement staff worked on a summary disposition in that case, which began in 2008.
Baylor self-imposed penalties in that case, which the NCAA accepted, including three years of probation, recruiting restrictions and scholarship reductions.
This article was selected for educational purposes only.