The sanctions slapped on the LSU football program by the NCAA has left its head coach perplexed and rhetorically asking, essentially, how they could have done anything different.
Late last month, it was reported that LSU has been banned by The Association from signing early enrollee recruits to financial aid agreements (FAA) for the next two years, and the program will be stripped of 10 percent of its recruiting evaluation days in 2015. The sanctions likely stem from a 2015 recruit, Matt Womack, who had signed an FAA with LSU, with the intention of enrolling early, but ultimately signed a National Letter of Intent with SEC West rival Alabama.
Football programs that have recruits sign such agreements are permitted unlimited contact with the prospects, although there could be penalties for the program if that player enrolls elsewhere. That’s where the situation gets murky for Les Miles, whose program has been, according to one recruiting analyst, been used as a test-case guinea pig.
In his first public comments since the sanctions were levied, Miles claimed that, once it looked like the player he wouldn’t mention by name may have been backing off his commitment to LSU, he and his staff went to the compliance department and were told to end contact with the prospect. In Miles’ mind, they did, but they were still punished retroactively for something seemingly out of the program’s control — a teenager changing his mind.
“He went to another school, which is punishment enough,” Miles said Saturday. “I didn’t quite know how to handle it any differently than we did. The parallel is that they put a speed limit sign up so you went that speed limit and then they took the speed limit sign down and put up a lesser one, then they give you a ticket for going by (the limit) before. Again, I’m compliant, I believe in the NCAA, we do the right things.”
According to Miles, and in what some would say is a change from the past, his program bends over backwards to be in compliance with NCAA bylaws.
“I have a compliant house, a compliant atmosphere,” said the coach. “If not every morning, once or twice a week I routinely describe what we’re running into. For instance we have unofficial visits on our campus and we will have them throughout the spring. How do you operate?
“We have safeguards in place that allow us to monitor any possible mishaps. We stay with the calendar, describe official visits, all the contacts in home, evaluations. As we go through the calendar we describe all the pitfalls that would happen. It can get you. You can be trying to do all the right things and it can get you.”
LSU is thought to be the first football program to be slapped with these particular sanctions since they were enacted following the 2014 recruiting cycle. Expect what’s seemingly an inexplicable and asinine rule to be placed under a harsh light in short order and either tweaked significantly or outright rescinded. Either that or teams need to stop accepting FAAs from prospective recruits, one of the two.