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West Virginia Hit With Two-Year NCAA Probation For Recruiting Violations

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The NCAA released Wednesday that West Virginia will be under a two-year probation period and hit with recruiting restrictions after "impermissible telephone and text communications that occurred in a number of the institution's athletics programs."

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA released Wednesday morning a press release which states that "West Virginia University coaches in 14 sports sent impermissible texts and placed impermissible calls to prospects and parents" between June 2010 and February 2013. The release reads as follows:

Most of the impermissible communications occurred in women’s gymnastics, football, women’s basketball and women’s soccer, resulting in Level II violations. Additionally, an assistant women’s gymnastics coach committed nearly all of the text and phone violations in that program. The recruiting violations in the other 10 programs were limited and the panel determined they were Level III violations.

Penalties in this case include two years of probation, recruiting restrictions and a one-year show-cause order for the assistant coach. During the show-cause period, the assistant coach may not recruit during the 30 days before the 2015 spring NLI signing date and must attend an NCAA Regional Rules seminar.

According to the NCAA report, these violations were self-reported by WVU while the university was still under a probation period for a previous offense.

The violations exclusively related to impermissible text and telephone calls. The institution self-discovered the violations in January 2013 while it was on probation from a previous case involving the football program. The committee released its decision in that case on July 8, 2011, placing the institution on probation for two years.

The current case originated in 2010 when the institution purchased a compliance software program that monitored recruiting telephone and text messages and identified those that potentially violated NCAA legislation. From the spring of 2010 through January 2013, the institution reviewed potential "flagged" telephone call and text message violations under one section of the program, believing this was in fact capturing all potential telephone call and text message violations. However, the section the institution was reviewing only flagged some of the potential telephone call and text message violations. As a result, there were impermissible telephone and text message violations that went undiscovered. The institution discovered the additional violations after the software company upgraded the program to make this information part of the screen the institution compliance personnel reviewed each day.

Upon discovering the violations, the institution conducted an internal investigation and, on June 24, 2013, submitted a self-report to the enforcement staff documenting 180 text message violations involving 12 sports, and 26 telephone call violations involving seven sports, all occurring between June 2010 and February 2013. The institution submitted the self-report two weeks prior to the conclusion of the probationary period resulting from the 2011 case. Following the enforcement staff's review of the self-report and associated documents, the enforcement staff determined that an additional 114 text messages and 40 telephone call violations occurred. These additional violations were added to the case.

On October 23, 2014, the parties jointly submitted the SDR to the committee. A panel reviewed the SDR on November 14, 2014. In a November 17, 2014, letter, the panel requested additional information regarding a self-imposed football penalty. Two days after the request, the institution provided the requested information. In determining penalties, the panel reviewed the institution's self-imposed penalties and corrective actions. The panel also considered the restrictions and corrective measures placed on the assistant women's gymnastics coach by the institution. The panel determined that the case warranted additional penalties. In a November 21, 2014, letter, the panel proposed additional and standard administrative penalties to the institution and the assistant women's gymnastics coach. The panel and the institution engaged in further discussion. On December 9, 2014, both the institution and the assistant women's gymnastics coach accepted the proposed additional and standard administrative penalties.

WVU AD Shane Lyons had released this statement at 1PM today:

"While I am disappointed with today’s NCAA report, I do take note that our department found the infractions, self-reported them and worked with the NCAA in full cooperation to address and correct the issues. I am confident that the department has taken the necessary steps to correct its compliance and recruiting software program, re-educate the staff on updated NCAA changes on the rules surrounding text messages and phone calls and fulfilled our obligations to the NCAA concerning the situation long before I started as athletic director back on Feb. 2.

"I was aware of this issue when I interviewed for the job, and it did not deter my confidence at all in West Virginia University. We are and always will be committed to the legislation policies of the NCAA. Moving forward, I expect our department to continue its strong dedication to NCAA compliance."

WVU Executive Senior Associate AD Keli Cunningham also released a statement:

“While I am disappointed in the findings that resulted in our athletics department being responsible for a Level II infraction, it’s important to note that there was no failure to monitor, no lack of institutional control, and no failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. There was no systemic effort by any of our coaches to violate the rules or gain a significant recruiting advantage, and that is reflected by the NCAA’s decision.

“We take this very seriously and we accept the NCAA’s findings. West Virginia University continues to be committed to the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big 12 Conference, and we will continue to work with the NCAA to fulfill our obligations during the probationary period. We are confident that the misunderstanding with the software package has been remedied and that we will be better equipped to help our coaches and staff avoid these kinds of infractions in the future.”

The NCAA press release from this morning broke down the penalties both handed down by the association itself and the recognized self-imposed penalties adopted by WVU:

Penalties handed down by the NCAA:

Two years of probation from Feb. 18, 2015 through Feb. 17, 2017.

A one-year show-cause order for a gymnastics assistant coach from Feb. 18, 2015 through Feb. 17, 2016. During this time, the assistant coach may not recruit during the 30 days before the 2015 spring NLI signing date. He must also attend an NCAA regional rules seminar. Finally, the panel acknowledged and adopted the school’s suspension of one competition for the assistant coach.

Penalties self-imposed by West Virginia and adopted by the infractions panel:

Reduction of telephone communication in all 14 involved sports during portions of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.

Reduction of off-campus recruiting in football, women’s soccer, women’s basketball and men’s basketball.

Restrictions to official visits for the women’s soccer program.

Reduction of one football scholarship for the 2013-14 academic year.

We will keep you updated as more quotes come out about this.

If you wish to read the official NCAA report .pdf, it can be found here.