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NCAA places LSU football on probation over recruiting violations made by a ex-assistant coach

NCAA puts LSU football program on probation for recruiting violations by former assistant coach and accepts school’s self-imposed sanctions, including $5,000 fine

  • Former offensive line coach James Cregg violated recruiting restrictions put in place during the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Cregg was fired by the school in 2021, but a state judge ordered LSU to pay him back over $490,000 for the remainder of his contract
  • LSU self-imposed a $5,000 fine and limited recruiting activities this season
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The NCAA placed LSU’s football program on one-year probation Thursday after determining former offensive line coach James Cregg violated recruiting restrictions during the 2020 football season.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions found that Cregg violated restrictions against personal contact with potential recruits during the COVID-19 pandemic and provided improper inducements to a recruit.

The committee also issued a three-year “show cause” penalty against Cregg, meaning his own recruiting activities would be limited during that period if he was hired by another NCAA member program.

“While (the committee) has encountered more egregious conduct in previous cases, the violations in this case represent willful misconduct that should be of concern to the membership,” the panel said.

‘The dead period for COVID-19 recruiting was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, student-athletes and institutional staff. It also leveled the playing field for recruitment at a time when government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions varied across the country.’

The NCAA has penalized the LSU Tigers football program for recruiting violations starting in 2020
The NCAA has penalized the LSU Tigers football program for recruiting violations starting in 2020

The NCAA has penalized the LSU Tigers football program for recruiting violations starting in 2020

Assistant coach James Cregg (seen here from his time with the Raiders) was fired in June 2021
Assistant coach James Cregg (seen here from his time with the Raiders) was fired in June 2021

Assistant coach James Cregg (seen here from his time with the Raiders) was fired in June 2021

The investigation also involved a former assistant director of recruiting, whose name has not been released.

The NCAA still has a separate investigation going through its Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) into alleged recruiting violations by former LSU basketball coach Will Wade, who was fired after last season, and into booster payments to football players made prior to recent rule changes that allow players to receive financial endorsement deals from program sponsors.

LSU fired Cregg in June 2021, citing alleged violations of NCAA recruiting rules. Cregg sued for breach of contract, claiming he could not be fired for cause without an NCAA ruling on the allegations.

A state district judge agreed and ordered LSU in August to pay Cregg $492,945 — the remainder of his contract. LSU has said it plans to appeal that court decision.

The NCAA investigation found that Cregg arranged to greet a recruit and his family in September 2020 and gave the recruit a bag of used LSU gear.

The NCAA accepted the school's self-imposed penalty, including a $5,000 fine
The NCAA accepted the school's self-imposed penalty, including a $5,000 fine

The NCAA accepted the school’s self-imposed penalty, including a $5,000 fine

The committee said the prospect and his family returned to LSU on another trip shortly after, when a former assistant recruiting director picked up the recruit and his girlfriend from their hotel and drove them to Tiger Stadium for a tour.

The trip was considered a violation of both solicitation and personal contact restrictions.

During that trip, Cregg met the recruit and his family in his neighborhood. The prospect’s mother had indicated she would move to Baton Rouge if her son played for LSU and sought advice from Cregg on where to look for housing, the committee said.

Cregg and the assistant director of recruiting “acknowledged that they knew their conduct was impermissible,” the NCAA committee stated.

The other sanctions the NCAA announced Thursday had been self-imposed by LSU. These included a $5,000 fine, a limit of 55 official football visits during the 2022-23 academic year, a one-week ban on unofficial visits to the football program prior to the current academic year, a one-week ban on recruiting communication in the football program within the current academic year and a reduction of seven evaluation days in the football program during the fall 2021 evaluation period.

LSU said in a statement that the ruling “concludes a 21-month collaborative process between the university and the NCAA.”

LSU ‘has been working with enforcement staff to determine the truth and impose sanctions itself,’ the statement said. ‘We are grateful to the committee and enforcement staff for their work and for accepting our self-imposed sanctions.’

LSU also set a limit on official visits for this academic year and a one-week ban on recruiting communications and a reduction in evaluation days from last season
LSU also set a limit on official visits for this academic year and a one-week ban on recruiting communications and a reduction in evaluation days from last season

LSU also set a limit on official visits for this academic year and a one-week ban on recruiting communications and a reduction in evaluation days from last season

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