Violations Roundup: When Recruiting Gets Awkward

It’s time again for my bi-annual review of violations reported by the Mississippi State athletic department. As is usually the case, it’s a bunch of secondary violations, but this batch – I requested violations reported to the SEC since June 1, 2012 – is particularly interesting. In fact, the first four violations listed here really illustrate just how easily – and sometimes innocently – a violation can occur, sometimes with the MSU person involved not realizing what was going on until it happened.

Case in point: The third violation listed below, involving MSU’s head softball coach, Vann Stuedeman. It has to go down as one of the most awkward NCAA violations ever, and what stinks for Stuedeman is that she and her coaching staff had to be punished for the acts of someone outside the program.

Many of these violations also illustrate how complicated the NCAA rulebook can be for coaches who, let’s best honest, are going to have a hard time remembering every single bylaw. There are just so many. I suppose that’s no excuse for breaking rules, because it’s part of their jobs to know the rules and to follow them. And in some these cases, the people involved should’ve known better.

Anyway, let’s round it up. I warn you, it’s quite lengthy, but again, the first four are especially interesting to me.

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Football (Reported June 21)

• Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.10.5, publicizing a prospect’s visit to the institution’s campus.

• Details: On June 10, a reporter interviewed a prospective student-athlete (football) and posted a video of the interview on the Internet and social media sites while the S-A was making an on-campus visit. The violation was discovered when media relations personnel saw the interview online and notified compliance.

Self-imposed penalties: Coach Dan Mullen would be sent a letter of admonishment reminding him of his obligations under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; a department-wise email would be sent out reminding everyone of their obligation to keep media away from prospects while they are on campus, with an emphasis on issues during the summer (camps, etc.); media relations would send out a notice to regular media outlets reminding them of relevant NCAA legislation and MSU’s commitment to rules compliance.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level II secondary violation.

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Soccer (Reported June 22)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.4.1.2, impermissible electronic transmission to a prospect.

• Details: Assistant coach Kim Pettit, hired June 18, received a text message on June 19 from a prospect; the message was intended for Pettit’s predecessor (whose phone was issued to Pettit). Pettit replied and gave the prospect the former coach’s new cell number. The violation was discovered when Pettit asked compliance how to handle messages she received that were intended for the former coach. This prospect is not being recruited by MSU.

• Self-imposed penalties: Pettit would not be permitted to make telephone contact with any prospective student-athlete for 14 days; Pettit would be sent a letter of admonishment; head coach Neil MacDonald would be given a letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

• SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level I secondary violation.

• NCAA response: MSU should also be required to preclude entire soccer coaching staff from having nay written or telephone contact with any prospects for one week.

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Softball (Reported July 9)

• Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.1.1.1, impermissible off-campus contact of a prospect.

• Details: On June 28, head coach Vann Stuedeman arrived at an airport while on the road recruiting, and a 2014 prospect, along with her parents, waited for her inside the airport terminal in order to surprise Stuedeman with a verbal commitment. Stuedeman ended the encounter as quickly as possible and informed the prospect and her parents that she could not have off-campus contact with a 2014 prospect. She told them she would have to report a violation, and she immediately contacted the compliance office.

Self-imposed penalties: Stuedeman would be given a letter of admonishment and a reminder letter of her obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; Stuedeman would be prohibited from participating in any off-campus recruiting for 30 calendars days beginning July 1, 2012; the softball staff would be prohibited from further off-campus contact with the prospect in question for 30 days beginning July 1; off-campus contacts for the prospect in question would be limited to one for the 2013-14 academic year.

• SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level I secondary violation.

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Soccer (Reported July 26)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 12.5.1.1, regarding institutional, charitable, educational or nonprofit promotions.

Details: The soccer team was asked to participate in a pre-approved promotional activity at a children’s hospital on July 19. Two soccer players missed class to participate in the promotional activity, despite being told by the coach that they were not allowed to miss class to participate. The athletes had spoken with their professors and were given permission to miss class, so the athletes didn’t think it would be a problem. The violation was discovered during a conversation with the academic counseling staff.

Self-imposed penalties: The head coach was issued a letter of admonishment and reminded of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; MSU declared the athletes in question ineligible and sought reinstatement from the NCAA staff.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level I secondary violation.

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Football, volleyball (Reported Aug. 9)

• Violation: NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1, regarding advertisements and promotions after becoming a student-athlete.

Details: A volleyball player was asked to participate in a photo shoot for Town & Gown magazine, a local publication, and she asked a football player if he would like to participate as well. While looking into this matter, it was discovered that another football player also appeared in the June edition of the magazine. None of the athletes sought prior approval for this activity. No payments or benefits were received for this activity. The violation was discovered when Facebook pages of photography businesses featuring the athletes in question were shared with compliance.

• Self-imposed penalties: Mullen would be given a letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood would be given a letter reminding her of her obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; MSU declared the three athletes in question ineligible and sought reinstatement from the NCAA staff; MSU asked the photographers to remove the athletes’ pictures from their Facebook profile and cover pages.

• SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level I secondary violation.

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Football (Reported Sept. 6)

• Violation: NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.1, non-permissible use of a student-athlete’s picture.

• Details: The Aug. 31 issue of MSU student newspaper The Reflector included an advertisement for the Remington Hunt Club, and it included a picture of a current football player. The violation was discovered when a member of the MSU athletic media relations staff gave a copy of the paper to compliance.

Self-imposed penalties: The school issued cease-and-desist letters to both the Reflector editor and the Remington Hunt Club. Also, the editor was contacted so she could educate the newspaper’s ad staff to be aware of any ads that might contain images of student-athletes. The eligibility of the athlete in question was not affected.

• SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level I secondary violation.

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Football (Reported Sept. 7)

• Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.1.3.1, regarding permissible number of telephone calls per week to a prospect.

Details: During the week of March 4, assistant coach Scott Sallach made multiple calls to a community college prospect who enrolled at MSU in the fall but is not a student-athlete. The violation was discovered during a compliance phone audit.

Self-imposed penalties: Sallach would have no telephone contact with any prospect for 14 days beginning Sept. 6; Sallach would be sent a letter of admonishment; Mullen would be sent a letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level II secondary violation.

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Women’s basketball (Reported Sept. 18)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.4.1.1, regarding printed recruiting materials used in the recruiting process.

Details: During a home visit with a prospect, the women’s basketball staff used a printed packet of information that included personalized information about the prospect they were visiting. The layout was similar to what the staff had used at their previous institution (Texas A&M). The staff had attempted to consult compliance on the matter, but a misunderstanding in communication led the coaches to believe the document was allowable. Communication with the coaches was not finalized until after the home visit in question. Based upon these factors, MSU requested relief from the SEC minimum penalties for violations of the above-mentioned bylaw.

Self-imposed penalties: The number of recruiting opportunities for the prospect would be reduced by two during the current academic year; assistant coaches A’Quonesia Franklin and Johnnie Harris would receive letters of admonishment; head coach Vic Schafer would receive a letter of admonishment and be reminded of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; the senior associate athletics director for compliance would meet with the entire women’s basketball staff to ensure a clear line of communication is established for all compliance matters.

• SEC response: No response yet.

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Men’s tennis (Reported Sept. 21)

• Violation: NCAA bylaw 17.1.6.2.1.1, out-of-season countable athletically related activities (CARA) during a vacation period.

Details: Coaches participated in one hour of skill instruction with four athletes on Sept. 3 (Labor Day). Head coach Per Nilsson said the athletes requested the instruction, and he thought it was allowable because the request came from them. The violation was discovered when the compliance office reviewed submitted CARA logs.

• Self-imposed penalties: Nilsson would be given a letter of admonishment and a reminder letter of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; CARA for the entire men’s tennis team would be reduced by two hours for the week of Sept. 23-29; the four athletes in question would be required to have two days off for the week of Sept. 23-29.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed. Level II secondary violation.

I am the online content coordinator for DJournal.com. Previously at the Journal, I covered Mississippi State athletics (2008-13), high schools (2004-08), and was on the copy desk (2002-04). I'm working on a recipe for bacon-flavored coffee, which would solve all the world's problems.

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Posted in Basketball, Football, Other, Recruiting
  • MidTennDog

    Most of these are stupid. The Town & Gown one, though. I’m surprised the NCAA didn’t look into that. They don’t normally assume people are telling the truth when they say they didn’t get paid for appearing in an ad/promotion. Also, the women’s basketball printed materials violation… if they were using a packet similar to what they used at A&M… sounds like A&M has secondary violations as well.

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