In an effort to wrap up the football portion of its ongoing NCAA investigation, LSU is reportedly self-imposing an array of penalties for various rules violations.
Sports Illustrated reported Wednesday that LSU is decreasing its allotment of football scholarships by eight and is also reducing “recruiting visits, evaluations and communication.” The scholarship reductions will take place over the next two years, four in each year.
LSU informed the NCAA of its self-imposed penalties earlier this month, per SI’s reporting. The full scope of the recruiting sanctions include “the elimination of 12.5% of official and unofficial visits, a 21-day reduction of the normal 168 days of allowable off-campus contacts and a six-week ban in communication with prospects.”
The sanctions primarily stem from a two-year-old case involving booster John Paul Funes, who paid approximately $180,000 of money stolen from a children's hospital foundation to the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander over a five-year period.
Additionally, per Sports Illustrated, LSU is banning Odell Beckham Jr. from its facilities for two years. Beckham, the star receiver for the Cleveland Browns who played collegiately for the Tigers, was seen giving out $100 bills to LSU players on the field after LSU won the national championship back in January.
LSU initially claimed the money was fake, but Joe Burrow, the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner who was chosen No. 1 overall in the 2020 NFL draft, said the money he received from Beckham was real. LSU later acknowledged it was real cash and said the “payments totaled $2,000,” per Sports Illustrated.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) January 14, 2020
The third part of the LSU football program’s NCAA case involves an impermissible contact with a recruit by head coach Ed Orgeron. LSU self-reported that violation and characterized it as “inadvertent.”
By self-imposing these penalties, LSU is hoping to avoid a postseason ban. It remains to be seen whether the NCAA will impose additional penalties to the football program.
“LSU has worked proactively and in cooperation with the NCAA to identify and self-report any violations that occurred within our football program,” said Robert Munson, LSU’s senior associate athletic director, in a statement. “We believe these self-imposed penalties are appropriate and we will continue to coordinate and cooperate with the NCAA on this matter.”
LSU basketball also under NCAA investigation
The LSU men’s basketball program is also embroiled in an NCAA investigation and the university is hoping the NCAA handles the two cases separately.
The NCAA is accusing LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade of either arranging for, offering or providing impermissible benefits, including cash payments, to “at least 11” potential recruits or others around them.
Here's a screen shot from the documents produced by LSU that led to the eye-popping allegations against basketball coach Will Wade. pic.twitter.com/nmObY2IDP5
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) August 26, 2020
A notice of allegations has yet to be sent to the school, but the cases for both sports have been sent to the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP), which was created in the aftermath of the federal investigation into corruption in college basketball.
Wade was infamously heard discussing making a “strong-ass offer” for a recruit on a federal wiretap. Wade was initially suspended by LSU and refused to meet with school officials. He missed the team’s final regular season game, plus the Tigers’ games in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. However, he was reinstated April 14 and coached the 2019-20 season.
Part of Wade’s reinstatement included a modified contract that “allows the university to fire him with cause if he’s found to have committed Level I or Level II violations,” according to ESPN. Wade has denied all wrongdoing.
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