NCAA announces WVU recruiting violations

The NCAA Committee on Infractions panel announced Wednesday that 14 West Virginia University sports had committed recruiting violations between June 2010 and February 2013.

The violations occurred by coaches sending impermissible text messages and placing impermissible phone calls to prospective student-athletes and their parents during that time. The report found that the majority of the communications took place with the West Virginia football, women's basketball, women's soccer and gymnastics teams - which resulted in Level II violations.

With the other violations in the other 10 programs listed in the report being fairly limited, the panel determined that those would be Level III violations.

“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," said WVU athletic director Shane Lyons. "I am confident that the department has taken the necessary steps to correct its compliance and recruiting software program, reeducate 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.”

Penalties in this case brought forth by the NCAA include a two-year probation period that will last from Feb. 18, 2015 to Feb. 17, 2017 and a one-year show-cause order for an assistant WVU gymnastics coach from February 18, 2015 through February 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.

In addition to the penalties from the NCAA, West Virginia has also self-imposed four other penalties. There will be a reduction of telephone communication for all of the 14 sports involved, as well as a reduction of off-campus recruiting in football, women's soccer, women's basketball and men's basketball. There will be restrictions to official visits for the women's soccer program and a reduction of one football scholarship.

The NCAA's public infractions decision that was released Wednesday showed that coaches in the 14 WVU sports sent a total of 294 impermissible text messages and placed 66 telephone calls during that time period, with 153 of those text messages (and one phone call) made by members of the West Virginia gymnastics staff. Of those 154 impermissible communications, the committee found that one assistant coach committed 151 of those violations.

Members of the football staff sent 46 text messages and made 22 calls while the women's basketball team had 17 texts and 26 phone calls and the women's soccer program sent 43 texts and made three calls.

The other 10 sports, which included the men's basketball, baseball, men's soccer, wrestling, tennis, volleyball, men's swimming, women's diving, rowing and track and field programs, sent 35 impermissible text messages and made 14 impermissible phone calls from June 2010 to February 2013.

“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," said executive senior athletic director Keli Cunningham. "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.”

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