Thursday, October 28, 2004
On this day:

Mississippi State's Football Program Put on Probation

From the AP:

Mississippi State's football program was placed on probation by the NCAA for four years, stripped of eight scholarships over the next two seasons and banned from postseason play this season because of recruiting violations.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that its infractions committee found two former assistants and several boosters broke recruiting rules between 1998-2002. But allegations of unethical conduct against former coach Jackie Sherrill were dismissed...

The Bulldogs are allowed just 81 football scholarships for the 2005 and 2006 seasons, and are limited to 45 expense-paid recruiting visits in each of the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years - 11 per year fewer than the maximum allowed by the NCAA.

Additional info that appeared in today's Huntsville Times (attributed to the AP):

The committee found that an unnamed assistant provided transportation and lodging expenses for campus visits for a recruit, and the assistant provided transportation and lodging expenses for campus visits for a recruit, and the assistant reimbursed the recruit's family for most of the cost of a rental car and for a hotel room, and a student host provided the player with $30 in cash.

Among other findings, the NCAA determined that another unnamed assistant arranged to pay for two high-school courses so a recruit could become academically eligible.

Also, student-athlete hosts gave cash to recruits on official visits during the 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 academic years, and a booster illegally allowed two recruits to stay at a hotel for free, the NCAA ruled.

The committee found that the school reimbursed three recruits from Memphis a total of $252 for car expenses in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, even though their high school coach used his car. Taken together, those two instances are considered major violations, the NCAA said.

All of this only reinforces my belief that the NCAA has gone way overboard in turning minor "offenses" into things that can cripple college athletic programs for years. I mean, come on. Why is it that paying potential recruits' transportation and lodging expenses and helping them finish up some high school coursework is so bad? All of that sounds like good Southern hospitality to me. They certainly don't sound like things that Mississippi State's football program should suffer for.