Violations Roundup: Billboards, Video and Social Media Play Roles

In today’s Journal, I have a story about MSU’s billboard campaign running afoul of NCAA bylaws (CLICK HERE). It has to do with those “Play with the Best” boards that went up around the state, including one in Oxford. The SEC has not yet classified the violation, but I expect it’s of a secondary nature, just like the rest of the documented violations MSU has reported since Jan. 1.

I made my bi-annual FOIA request earlier this month and received the info from MSU on Tuesday. So I’ve got a lengthy roundup for you, and while none of the violations are major, several of them are interesting for various reasons.

Besides the billboard violation, there was one other violation MSU committed in a very public manner. You might remember that a few weeks ago, head football coach Dan Mullen narrated a video titled “Recruiting 101,” intended to educate prospects and their parents on recruiting rules.

That was, ironically enough, a violation of NCAA bylaw 13.4.1.5 regarding permissible video materials. The bylaw states that a school “may not produce video or audio materials to show to, play for or provide to a prospective student-athlete,” save for certain exceptions.

MSU’s letter to the SEC, dated April 23, said the violation was discovered by the compliance office after the SEC notified them of a “potential problem.” From the letter: “While our (compliance) office was consulted by the football office about the ‘concept’ of an educational video related to recruiting rules, no final viewing or approval of the completed video by the compliance office was given.”

The self-imposed penalties: the video was removed from the Internet (I sure couldn’t find it); Mullen was sent the usual letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; all future video productions, whether produced internally or externally, will be approved by the compliance office before being distributed or show to prospects or the general public.

Below, you can find the rest of the violations, all classified as either Level I or Level II secondary violations. It’s interesting to note how easy it is for a violation to be committed, and how these days social media can often play a role in the commitment of a violation or discovery thereof. Coaches have to be on their toes.

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Football (Dated May 16)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.1.3.1.2, time period for telephone calls to football prospects during spring evaluation period.

Details: On April 22, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Geoff Collins placed a call to a prospect and then did not immediately log the call. On May 14, Mullen was given a list of recruits to call, and the prospect in question was on that list. Mullen called him, which was a violation. On May 15, Collins saw Mullen’s recruit call list and realized his mistake.

Self-imposed penalties: Collins was restricted from making any recruiting phone calls for a one-week period beginning May 15; further calls to prospects will be restricted for a 30-day period beginning Sept. 1; Collins will be sent a letter of admonishment; Mullen will be sent a reminder letter of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

SEC response: No response yet.

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Football (Dated Jan. 17)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.1.2, impermissible recruiter’s involvement during official visits.

Details: On Jan. 14, a parent of a former MSU athlete was allowed to speak to parents of prospects who were on official visits. Mullen thought this was permissible since this parent had been involved with and spoken to current player parent groups. The violation was discovered by a compliance office staffer who saw the parent enter the building where the prospects’ parents were gathered.

Self-imposed penalties: Mullen was to be given a letter of admonishment, including a reminder of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; rules education was to take place at the next compliance meeting to discuss NCAA bylaw 13.1.2.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed.

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Football (Dated Feb. 13)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.5.2.2, impermissible reimbursement for automobile transportation for an official visit.

Details: During the weekend of Jan. 13-15, a prospect traveled by automobile with his mother for an official visit and received the permissible reimbursement allowance of $116. The prospect’s dad traveled separately and was mistakenly given the same amount in reimbursement by Rockey Felker, MSU’s director of football operations. The violation was discovered when the business office reviewed official visit documentation.

Self-imposed penalties: Felker was to be given a letter of admonishment and required to attend two days of a regional rules seminar on recruiting and/or violation reporting; the prospect was declared ineligible and was to seek reinstatement through the NCAA Student-Athlete reinstatement process; the prospect is required to pay the $116 to a charity of his choice; Mullen was to be given a letter reminding him of his obilgation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed.

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Softball (Dated April 11)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 12.5.1.1, institutional, charitable, educational or non-profit promotions.

Details: On April 9, several members of the MSU softball team helped conduct a softball clinic, which is a permissible promotional activity, but they did so without receiving prior approval from the athletics director (Scott Stricklin) or his designee. Compliance became aware of the violation via Twitter.

Self-imposed penalties: Coach Vann Stuedeman was to be given a letter of admonishment to include a reminder of her obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed.

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Football (Dated Feb. 23)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.1.1.3, contact with an enrolled student-athlete at another institution without obtaining permission from that institution.

Details: Offensive line coach John Hevesy made contact, via Facebook, with the parent of a prospect, telling that parent that MSU would take the older brother of the prospect as a transfer if he wanted to come to MSU. Hevesy told compliance that he was responding to a question from the parent about whether her older son could transfer if the younger son came to MSU next fall. The older brother did not meet transfer requirements of the SEC, and no conversations were ever held with him about transferring to State if his brother were to sign with the Bulldogs.

Self-imposed penalties: Hevesey received a letter of reprimand; Mullen received a letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; MSU did not issue a national letter of intent or SEC financial aid agreement to the prospect in question.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed.

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Men’s Track & Field (Dated March 7)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 16.11.2.1, nonpermissible benefits, gifts and services to a student-athlete as it relates to bylaw 13.6.7.5 (student hosts).

Details: A men’s track and field athlete, despite not being a host for a prospect’s official visit, received $42.52 for three meals from Feb. 17-19. The violation was discovered by the athletic business office when they reviewed the official visit expense packet.

Self-imposed penalties: The athlete in question was declared ineligible until he makes a donation of $42.52 to a charity of his choice; the compliance office will conduct rules education concerning bylaw 13.6.7.5 at the next compliance meeting; head coach Steve Dudley was to be sent a letter of admonishment and reminded of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed.

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Baseball (Dated Jan. 11)

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

Details: Pitching coach Butch Thompson made three phone calls to a prospect during a week outside the contact period. He spoke with the prospect three times between Dec. 6 and 10, “without thinking about the call limit during the quiet period,” says MSU’s letter to the SEC. The violation was discovered during the compliance staff’s monthly review of coaches’ phone logs.

Self-imposed penalties: Thompson was to have no phone contact with any prospect for 14 days; the entire coaching staff was to be prohibited from calling the prospect in question for 30 days; Thompson was to be sent a letter of admonishment; head coach John Cohen was to be given a letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1.

SEC response: Self-imposed penalties accepted, plus Thompson was prohibited from having phone contact with the prospect in question for an additional week, making it 21 days total.

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Men’s Golf (Dated Jan. 4)

Violation: NCAA bylaw 13.4.1, permissible time period for sending printed recruiting material.

Details: On Dec. 19, 2011, assistant coach Sean Covich sent an email to a prospect prior on Sept. 1 of his junior year. Covich was recruiting in St. Simons Island, Ga., at the Jones Cup Junior Invitation. He was under the impression that the prospect in question was a 2013 graduate, then after sending the email learned he will be a 2014 graduate. Covich self-reported the violation.

Self-imposed penalties: Head coach Clay Homan was to be given a letter reminding him of his obligation under NCAA bylaw 11.1.2.1; Covich was to be sent a letter of admonishment; the men’s golf staff will be prohibited from sending any recruiting material to the prospect in question for a 60-day period beginning Sept. 1.

SEC response: Self-imposed actions accepted, no additional penalties imposed.