The NCAA has announced penalties for Mississippi State relating to an investigation into the recruitment of a student-athlete. MSU was cited for a booster making recruiting contact with a “top football prospect,” and former assistant coach Angelo Mirando was cited for unethical conduct for failing to report the booster’s activities. Here are the penalties, as contained in the NCAA Committee of Infractions report:
- Public reprimand and censure.
- Two years of probation from June 7, 2013 through June 6, 2015.
- A one-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach, which prevents him from recruiting activities and booster interaction.
- A reduction of the number of official visits to 39, from the four-year average of 41, for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (Self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction of the number of recruiting days during the spring evaluation period by four, from 168 to 164, for the 2013-14 academic year (Self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction in the number of total scholarships by two, from 85 to 83, for the 2012-13 academic year (Self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction in the number of initial and total scholarships by two, from 25 to 23 and 85 to 83, respectively, for the 2013-14 academic year (Self-imposed by the university).
- For the first two conference contests of the 2013 season, complimentary admissions to football recruits will be prohibited (Self-imposed by the university).
- Disassociation of the booster by the university’s athletics program. Details of the disassociation can be found in the public report (Self-imposed by the university).
All scholarship sanctions and recruiting limits have been satisfied by MSU, except for the 83-scholarship limit this fall and the complimentary tickets. So that’s a total reduction of four scholarships. MSU said it will accept the penalties in full and does not plan to appeal the decision by the committee of infractions.
MSU said in a release that the prospect in question, current MSU defensive back Will Redmond “has been reinstated through the NCAA Student Athlete Reinstatement Process, which requires that he repay $2,660 in impermissible benefits, forfeit a year of eligibility (the 2012 season) and be withheld from competition for the first five games of the 2013 season.” So Redmond will be a sophomore this fall and will serve a five-game suspension.
“The university did a great job of investigating and presenting the case to the committee,” Committee of Infractions chairman Britton Banowsky said in a teleconference.
“We’re pleased the Committee on Infractions accepted our self-imposed actions and Mississippi State’s full cooperation,” MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said in a statement. “Mississippi State has worked hard to create a culture of compliance focused on being proactive and diligent. Our university worked closely with the NCAA enforcement staff to determine all the facts of the situation and then took necessary steps to protect our school.
“This case should stand as a cautionary tale to staff and fans at all NCAA institutions. A booster inserted himself into the recruiting process without prompting, and a staff member failed to engage the university’s compliance staff once the booster’s actions became obvious. NCAA rules necessitate recruiting be conducted by coaches and staff, who in turn have the responsibility to remain vigilant against this type of activity by fans and others. The damage that can be done by even one so-called ‘booster’ ignoring NCAA rules, or staff members who fail to report such actions, can be catastrophic.”
MSU president Mark Keenum also issued a statement and expressed his pleasure at the NCAA’s actions.
“The steps we took underscore our determination as a university, and my strong commitment to conduct the activities of our athletic department within the framework of NCAA rules and regulations,” Keenum said. “Athletic director Scott Stricklin, head coach Dan Mullen and Bracky Brett, who leads MSU’s NCAA compliance team, all share that strong commitment. I have the utmost confidence in their abilities to reiterate our zero tolerance for NCAA rules violations as we move forward.”
The report states that after twice denying to the NCAA that he knew of a booster giving a prospective student-athlete impermissible benefits, Mirando admitted after resigning in August that he was aware after of the activities of Robert Denton Herring, who was not specifically named in the report. Herring was disassociated by MSU in July. MSU said in its release that it also disassociated itself from another booster.
The report says that Herring befriended a recruit – Redmond – and “began arranging for him to use cars, gave him cash and provided other benefits. During the recruitment, the booster exchanged more than 100 phone calls with the recruit, assisted the recruit in securing a car to drive to a campus visit and provided cash to the recruit on multiple occasions. Additionally, the booster and his friend provided a car to the recruit for approximately $2,000 below the actual value of the car. Prior to taking an official visit to a different university, the booster told the recruit that if he did not take the visit, the recruit would be paid $6,000.”
Said Banowsky, “This is a classic case where a booster inserts himself into the recruiting process in an effort to help his school land a prized recruit so they’d be better positioned to win more games. That’s always a problem. When a school, through its employee, has knowledge of it and doesn’t act, it becomes a more serious problem, obviously.”
In August, the school said in a release, “Over the last several months, Mississippi State has worked in cooperation with the N.C.A.A. to examine a potential recruiting irregularity.” The irregularity involved Mirando, who had just resigned his position citing“unforeseen personal issues.” ESPN initially reported that Mirando was being examined by the NCAA for his actions while recruiting at least one current MSU student-athlete.
Mullen was not directly implicated in the NCAA’s report. Banowsky said, “The committee really wasn’t presented any evidence at all that either the head coach was aware of what was going on, or the university for that matter.”
From the full report, here is a quick timeline:
• Summer of 2011: Herring made initial contact with Redmond, telling him he intended to start a Mississippi recruiting website. He did not pursue those plans but maintained contact with Redmond.
• Oct. 15, 2011: First in-person contact between Redmond and Herring, during Redmond’s unofficial visit. Herring gave Redmond $100 for “gas money,” which Redmond gave to his 7-on-7 coach, Byron De’Vinner (referred to in the report as a “non-scholastic coach”).
• December, 2011: Enforcement staff received information from a confidential source regarding the booster providing inducements to the prospect in an attempt to influence him to attend MSU. Mirando was the person who put the prospect in contact with the booster.
• Jan 13-15, 2013: A second in-person contact between Redmond and Herring, during Redmond’s official visit to MSU’s campus. Herring gave Redmond another $100.
• Feb. 17, 2012: Shortly after Redmond signed with MSU, the enforcement staff verbally notified the school that it was initiating an inquiry into the matter. Within the next five days, the enforcement staff conducted interviews with both Redmond and his mother.
• Feb. 24, 2012: The enforcement staff requested phone records, email accounts and documents relating to the recruitment of Redmond to MSU.
• May 1, 2012: After reviewing these materials, the enforcement staff interviewed De’Vinner.
• May 21, 2012: The enforcement staff and MSU conducted an initial interview with Mirando regarding the allegations.
• Early July: The enforcement staff requested documents relating to Herring’s communication with prospects from the booster’s employer. That request was denied on July 11, and on July 13 MSU issued a disassociation letter to Herring.
• July 19, 2012: Herring wrote a letter to the enforcement staff that included some of the records the NCAA had sought from him.
• July 26, 2012: The enforcement staff conducted a second round of interviews with Redmond and his mother.
• Aug. 8, 2012: The enforcement staff conducted a second interview with Mirando.
• Aug. 18, 2012: MSU asked Mirando to resign, and he did so the next day.
• Sept. 18, 2012: Mirando submitted a letter to the enforcement staff indicating he had not previously been truthful, and he agreed to a third interview. That interview was conducted by both the enforcement staff and MSU on Sept. 20.
• Nov. 20, 2012: The enforcement staff issued a notice of allegations to MSU and to Mirando, and an amended notice of allegations came one week later.
• Feb. 18, 2013: MSU and Mirando both filed their responses to the allegations.
• Feb. 27, 2013: The enforcement staff conducted prehearing conferences with MSU and Mirando’s legal counsel.
• April 19, 2013: MSU appeared before the committee of infractions to address allegations of major infractions in the football program.