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YSU football program faces penalties over violations

The YSU football program faces two years of probation and a $5,000 fine among other penalties.
Stambaugh Stadium
Stambaugh Stadium (YSU)

YOUNGSTOWN — The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions on Tuesday approved a negotiated resolution agreement regarding self-reported violations that occurred in the Youngstown State University football program.

YSU’s football program faces penalties after an assistant coach had impermissible contact with a prospect and the program permitted three football staff members to recruit off campus without completing the coaches certification test, according to an agreement released Tuesday by the committee. The university and the committee also agreed that the school failed to monitor its football program.

In a statement from YSU, the university identified and self-reported the recruiting violations, conducted an internal investigation and worked cooperatively with the NCAA to negotiate a resolution. Additional policies and procedures were implemented to enhance NCAA rules education and to avoid future violations. 

“Youngstown State Athletics is committed to maintaining and ensuring the highest standards of compliance in our intercollegiate athletics program,” the university said in a statement. 

The university and the enforcement staff used ranges identified by the Division I membership-approved infractions penalty guidelines to agree on Level II-standard penalties for the university and Level II-mitigated for the assistant coach. 

The penalties approved by the committee include:

  • Two years of probation;
  • A $5,000 fine;
  • A reduction of football official visits by three during the 2021-22 academic year;
  • A two-week ban on unofficial visits during the 2020-21 academic year;
  • A two-week ban on all recruiting communication during the 2020-21 academic year;
  • A reduction of football evaluation days by three during the 2021-22 academic year;
  • The assistant football coach was suspended from all coaching duties during three preseason football dates;
  • The assistant coach was banned from recruiting activities from Feb. 13-26, 2021.

According to the NCAA website, the university, the assistant coach and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that while the prospect was enrolled at a Division II university, the assistant coach had 41 impermissible contacts without obtaining written permission from the prospect’s school. 

Additional impermissible contacts occurred when the prospect made an unofficial visit and a later official visit, during both of which the assistant coach and other coaches engaged in impermissible contacts over extended periods of time.

When the coach first contacted the prospect, he mistakenly informed the assistant coach that he was in the Transfer Portal, according to the agreement. The prospect had previously requested that his athletics department compliance office add him to the Transfer Portal but did not understand that the school was not required to add him because Division II had not adopted the same transfer rules at that time. 

The assistant coach was not provided with rules education or access to the Transfer Portal, and he did not check with the school to confirm the prospect’s transfer status.

When former head coach Bo Pelini was hired by LSU in January 2020, YSU discovered that he and two assistant coaches had not taken the 2019-20 coaches certification test, which is required for off-campus recruiting activities. 

Because the coaches had not been certified, they had impermissible contacts with 16 prospects and conducted impermissible evaluations of two other prospects.

The school sent multiple emails to remind the coaches that they had not passed their certification. The university and enforcement staff agreed that the school failed to monitor the football program because it did not have an adequate system in place to ensure coaches were properly certified prior to engaging in recruiting activities. 

The case was processed through the new negotiated resolution process.

The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary because the university, the assistant coach and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties. The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the association and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable. Negotiated resolutions may not be appealed and do not set case precedent for other infractions cases.