By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Scott Stricklin called it a “cautionary tale,” and the NCAA termed it a “classic case.” In the end, Mississippi State was content with the end result of the NCAA’s 14-month investigation into the recruiting tactics of a former assistant coach and a booster.
On Friday, the NCAA Committee of Infractions released an 18-page report on its findings and the resulting penalties levied against MSU. The NCAA determined that the major violations fell into two categories: impermissible recruiting activities by a booster, and unethical conduct by former assistant coach Angelo Mirando for failing to report these activities when he became aware of them.
Among the penalties: Two years’ probation for the entire athletic department; a reduction of four football scholarships over two years; a reduction in allowable official recruiting visits; and a reduction in the number of recruiting days during the spring evaluation period.
Six of the penalties were self-imposed, including the scholarship and recruiting penalties. MSU reduced its total number of scholarships from 85 to 83 this past academic year and will do so again for 2013-14.
Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky, chairman of the Committee of Infractions, praised MSU’s full cooperation during the investigation, which began in February of 2012.
“The university did a great job of investigating and presenting the case to the committee,” Banowsky said.
He added, “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.”
The investigation revolved around Will Redmond, a defensive back from Memphis, who received inducements from a booster, including cash, clothing and vehicle discounts.
According to the NCAA’s report, the booster, Robert Denton Herring, first contacted Redmond in the summer of 2011 and later gave him money during Redmond’s visits to campus. He also offered Redmond $6,000 to not visit another school that was recruiting him.
Mirando became fully aware of the booster’s contact with Redmond, and of some of the inducements, in late November or early December but did not inform MSU officials or head coach Dan Mullen.
The report says Mirando was asked by MSU on Aug. 18 of last year to resign, and he did so the next day. After twice denying to the NCAA that he knew of Herring’s activities, Mirando finally admitted in a third interview that he did.
Mirando has received a one-year show cause order, which means if he is employed by an NCAA member institution during this period, he is not to be allowed to aid in recruiting or be in contact with representatives of the institution’s athletic interests.
MSU said Redmond, who signed with the school in 2012 and did not play last fall, had to forfeit his freshman year of eligibility and will be suspended for the first five games of the 2013 season. His eligibility was determined through the NCAA Student Athlete Reinstatement Process.
He must also repay $2,660 in impermissible benefits.
“This case should stand as a cautionary tale to staff and fans at all NCAA institutions,” said Stricklin, MSU’s athletics director. “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. …
“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 said that all scholarship sanctions and recruiting limits have been satisfied, except for the 83-scholarship limit this fall and the prohibition of complimentary tickets to prospects for the first two SEC games of 2013.
The report said that Herring arranged for Redmond to have a car so he could drive to Starkville for an unofficial visit in July of 2011. Herring and a friend later provided a vehicle to Redmond – through Redmond’s mother – in January of 2012, for a price approximately $2,000 below actual value.
In a letter to the Committee of Infractions, Herring admitted to having phone contact with Redmond and to providing him an MSU jacket as a birthday gift, but he denied providing any other items.
MSU disassociated itself from Herring in July.