The NCAA put the LSU football program on one year of probation Thursday after it was determined that former offensive line coach James Craig had violated enlistment restrictions during the 2020 football season.
The NCAA Division I Offenses Committee found that Cregg violated restrictions on personal contact with potential recruits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provided improper inducements to recruits.
The committee also issued a three-year “show cause” penalty against Cregg, meaning that his enlistment activities would be restricted for that period if he was hired by another NCAA member program.
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“Although (the committee) has faced more egregious behavior in previous cases, the abuses in this case represent willful misconduct that should be of concern to members,” the panel said. “The COVID-19 conscript death period was intended to protect the health and safety of prospects, athletes, athletes and institutional staff. It also leveled the playing field for conscription at a time when the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the government varied across the country.”
The investigation also included a former assistant director of recruitment, whose name has not been released.
The NCAA still has a separate investigation underway through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP) into alleged enlistment violations by former LSU basketball coach Will Wade, who was fired after last season, and into boosted payments to football players before recent rule changes that Allow players to receive financial endorsement deals from program sponsors.
LSU launched Cregg in June 2021, citing alleged violations of the NCAA’s recruitment rules. Cregg sued for breach of contract, arguing that he could not be fired for some reason without an NCAA ruling on the allegations. The state district judge agreed, and in August ordered LSU to pay Cregg $492,945 — the remainder of his contract.
LSU said it plans to appeal this court ruling.
An NCAA investigation found that Cregg arranged to greet the recruit and his family in September 2020 and gave the recruit a bag of used LSU equipment.
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The commission said the prospect and his family returned to LSU for another trip shortly after, when the former assistant director of recruiting picked the recruit and his girlfriend from their hotel and drove them to Tiger Stadium for a tour. The tour was considered a violation of both restrictions on temptations and personal contact.
During that trip, Craig met the recruit and his family in his neighborhood. The commission said the potential client’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 accommodation.
The NCAA stated that Craig and the assistant director of recruiting “have acknowledged that they know their conduct is not permitted.”
Other penalties announced by the NCAA Thursday have already been imposed by LSU itself. These included a $5,000 fine, a limit on 55 official football visits during the 2022-23 school year, a one-week ban on unofficial visits in the football program before the current school year, and a one-week ban against recruiting contacts into the football program before the current school year. The current school year and a reduction of seven assessment days in the football program during the Fall 2021 assessment period.
In a statement, LSU said the ruling “concludes a 21-month collaborative process between the university and the National Collegiate Athletic Association.”
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The statement said LSU “worked in coordination with law enforcement personnel to establish the truth and to self-sanction.” “We are grateful to the committee and law enforcement personnel for their work and for their acceptance of the sanctions that we have imposed,” he added.