NCAA won’t add to Baylor’s self-imposed penalties for recruiting violations


The NCAA has concluded that Baylor’s slapping of in its own wrist when it came to recruiting violations was sufficient.

The Association affirmed Wednesday that two current Bears assistants, offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and wide receivers coach Tate Wallis, committed the infractions and concluded that they had “exceeded the number of allowable recruiting evaluations for two prospects and had impermissible contact with one of the prospects.”  Additionally, a third BU assistant, passing-game coordinator Jeff Lebby, was found to have conducted prohibited off-campus scouting by attending the game of a future opponent.

The NCAA chided Briles and Wallis for searching for recruiting loopholes in the spring of last year as it pertains to track meets.

Despite receiving education about recruiting rules, two assistant football coaches tried to find a loophole in the rules to allow them to be seen more by prospects in the spring. During one compliance session, a coach asked if the staff could attend a track meet and turn their backs when the prospect they wanted to be seen by was competing so the coaches could avoid having to log an evaluation for that prospect. Although the compliance office stated this would be allowable, the panel noted that counsel was ill-advised at best. It further noted that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for a school to monitor when, or if, a coach attending a track meet looks down or turns away from a certain event to avoid evaluations of a prospect.

After receiving the guidance from compliance, the two assistant coaches attended track meets during the spring of 2015 and positioned themselves where contact with prospects was possible. Schools are limited to two evaluations per prospect in the spring evaluation period, so the three evaluations with one prospect and four evaluations with another violated NCAA rules.

In attending the prospects’ track meets, the panel stated the assistant coaches were trying to show the prospects they were important to the university, and because of the impermissible evaluations, the university gained an advantage over other schools that were following the recruiting rules.

“It is disappointing that the university’s coaching staff was more interested in finding loopholes to exploit the rules instead of trying to follow the rules,” said Greg Christopher, chief hearing officer for the panel and athletics director at Xavier University. “The assistant coaches could have easily avoided these violations if their focus had been following the rules rather than finding ways around them.”

That said, the NCAA accepted all of the penalties BU imposed on itself and didn’t add to them.  Those self-imposed penalties included:

  • A $5,000 fine.
  • The football staff stopped recruiting one of the prospects for eight weeks (self-imposed by the university).
  • The football staff stopped recruiting at track and field meets (self-imposed by the university).
  • The two assistant coaches who exceeded evaluations were suspended for one game during the 2015-16 season (self-imposed by the university).
  • The assistant coach who attended the future competitor’s game was suspended from the first half of one game during the 2015-16 season (self-imposed by the university).
  • The two assistant coaches who exceeded evaluations were prohibited from off-campus recruiting for 12 weeks during the fall 2015 evaluation period

“Complying with NCAA regulation is a fundamental expectation of all Baylor coaches, staff, student-athletes and supporters,” a portion of a statement from athletic director Mack Rhoades read. As President David Garland shared with the Committee on Infractions, we have tremendous confidence in our well-established compliance program, yet we will continue to place great emphasis on this expectation and hold those individuals accountable in circumstances where non-compliance occurs.”

None of the coaches involved in the case are expected to be retained by new head coach Matt Rhule. All three will, though, coach in the Bears’ bowl game.

The NCAA also alluded to the sexual assault scandal at the school, stating “[t]his infractions case is limited to recruiting violations in the football program” and that “[t]he panel has not considered any additional information related to the university’s football program.”

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields

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ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.