NEW BRUNSWICK — Rutgers, following an 18-month probe into its football program, is throwing itself on the mercy of the NCAA.
In a formal response after the NCAA issued a Notice of Allegations that details seven violations, Rutgers University officials said they are in agreement with the “vast majority of the allegations as they have been charged” and recommended a series of self-imposed sanctions.
Five months after the NCAA hit Rutgers with allegations involving drug use by players, hidden and possibly doctored drug-testing records, improper recruiting tactics and football officials who ignored rules and lied to investigators, the university filed a 102-page response.
The response, obtained by NJ Advance Media on Thursday, is basically a confession.
“It is clear that violations occurred in this case,” the Rutgers response reads. “The University recognizes the significance of this matter and acknowledges that it bears ultimately responsibility for the activities and actions described (in the report).”
Rutgers had 90 days from Dec. 19, 2016, to file its formal response to the NCAA, but the university was granted a 30-day extension, school officials said.
The university said it will post its response on its website later Thursday, and the NCAA will respond within 60 days.
The NCAA is expected to schedule a hearing involving the Committee on Infractions and all parties named in the notice at some point this summer.
In a statement to NJ Advance Media, a Rutgers spokesperson said: “As indicated in our Response, Rutgers has taken full responsibility for violations of NCAA bylaws and has taken corrective measures to enhance all aspects of our compliance programs. We look forward to meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions and the ultimate resolution of this matter.”
In its response, Rutgers proposed the following penalties against its football program:
- A one-year period of probation to commence with the release of the Committee on Infractions decision on this matter, during which the University’s Office of Athletic Compliance will be required to prepare reports on the progress of self-imposed sanctions and other penalties and present those reports to the President of the University and the Office of the Committee on Infractions;
- A $5,000 fine payable to the NCAA
- A reduction in the number of permissible, off-campus recruiting days by a total of 10: five days in the fall evaluation period and five days in the spring evaluation period during the 2017-18 academic year;
- A limitation of 36 official visits (for high school seniors and transfer students) in football during the 2017-18 academic year, a reduction by four from the average number of visits used during the four most recent academic years and 26 fewer than permitted under NCAA legislation;
- A probation on initiating telephone calls, contact via social media, and written correspondence with prospective student-athletes for a one-week period during the 2017-18 academic year.
In its response, Rutgers wrote:
“The University will continue to identify areas in which it can improve and will implement new policies or procedures. Rutgers University … recognizes its responsibility to act in good faith and with the utmost integrity. The University believes that through the strong leadership of Pat Hobbs, the hiring of new head coach Chris Ash, and new men’s basketball coach, Steve Pikiell, the University is headed in the right direction.
“Despite the University-wide disappointment over these allegations, Rutgers is a stronger University because of our immediate and transparent response, and the institution will continue to strive for excellence with integrity.”
The allegations enveloping the Rutgers football program involve widespread drug use by players that was covered up by former head coach Kyle Flood and Robert Monaco, Director of Sports Medicine, and Flood’s violation of the university’s compliance policy for contacting faculty and attempting to change a player’s grade.
In addition, the NCAA alleges that women in the football team’s “ambassador” program freelanced with recruits and their families, operating against the rules with no supervision.
Flood was fired following the 2015 season, months after he was suspended for three games by the university for academic improprieties.
In addition, Flood was charged with a possible show-cause order, which means, if a hearing concludes he violated NCAA infractions for providing an extra benefit to a player by contacting a professor and attempting to make him eligible, he will have to clear significant hurdles in order to coach college football again.
In February, Flood was hired by the Atlanta Falcons, where he will serve as an assistant offensive line coach. He has said he looks forward to defending himself at a hearing later this year.
The Rutgers case was given an initial Level II designation by the NCAA. While still considered “major,” Level II violations are considered less serious than Level I on the NCAA’s four-past scale.
Level II violations are defined by the NCAA as “violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws.”
In its response, Rutgers wrote: “The NOA includes seven allegations, six of which have been classified by the staff as Level II and one as Level III. The University agrees with the vast majority of the allegations as they have been charged and agrees that overall, the matter appropriately has been classified as a Level II case.”
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