Texas A&M football settles rules violation with NCAA
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The Texas A&M football program violated NCAA recruiting and countable athletically related activities rules between Jan. 2018 and Feb. 2019, according to an agreement between the Texas A&M and the NCAA released by the Division I Committee on Infractions.
In a statement, Texas A&M Athletics stressed that the violations were isolated and unintentional and both the university and head football coach Jimbo Fisher worked actively to resolve the issue. Texas A&M also says the NCAA acknowledged that Coach Fisher has never had any Level I, II or major violations at any university.
“I am grateful to the coaches and staff for acknowledging their mistakes and for taking appropriate actions to address issues, even before any decisions were made by the NCAA,” said Texas A&M University President Michael Young. “The ongoing commitment to compliance is essential. Coach Fisher and his staff have taken responsibility, implemented corrective actions, and have our full and total support.”
The agreement states Jimbo Fisher violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules. Fisher and former assistant coach Jay Graham had “impermissible recruiting contact with a prospect at his high school,” according to the NCAA. The conversation was in violation because it occurred before the completion of the prospect’s junior year in high school. Texas A&M explained further that the coaches were present in the office area of a high school coach when the communication with the prospective athlete took place.
“As Texas A&M’s Head Football Coach, I am responsible for promoting and monitoring for NCAA compliance in our program,” said Fisher. “While I am disappointed in the violations, including an unintended one that resulted from a conversation with a high school athlete, it is still my responsibility to ensure we are adhering to each and every rule. I am pleased to have this matter completely behind our program and look forward to continuing our efforts to make every aspect of our program one all Aggies can continue to be proud of.”
The released agreement also states that “during permissible weeks of spring and summer activity, the football program unintentionally caused student-athletes to exceed activity time limits by approximately seven hours.” According to Texas A&M, those overages took place in seven of 21 weeks in the spring and summer of 2018. Those overages ranged from 13 minutes one week to two hours during another week.
Within the agreement, it outlines that the head coach was unable to promote an “atmosphere of compliance” because of his personal involvement in the recruiting violation. Staff was also not monitored when the Fisher did not ensure the program was staying within the allowable number of “countable athletically related activity hours.”
Texas A&M announced several corrective and proactive actions that took place prior to the agreement. The university says it “promptly investigated, acknowledged the CARA violations for the period in question, provided additional education to the football staff, and imposed closer administrative oversight of football team activities to ensure the program does not exceed CARA limits going forward.” The university also ceased recruiting any athletes from the involved high school, self-imposed an off-campus recruiting ban in November 2019, and took measures to limit both on and off-campus recruiting in 2019 and 2020.
“Since I arrived at Texas A&M, I have seen up close and personal Coach Fisher’s commitment to integrity and following the rules,” said Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork. “I appreciate his response, including actions taken during the process itself. As a result, the program moves forward and remains on track in both our short and long-term quest for excellence. This will have no impact on our current or future student-athletes, the 2020 post-season, or our pursuit of championship success on and off the field.”
The penalties agreed upon by Texas A&M and the NCAA include:
- A single year of probation from July 2, 2020, to July 1, 2021
- Coach Fisher and former assistant coach Graham will conduct no off-campus recruiting activities during the fall of 2020 permissible contact period as part of a six-month show-cause order; Coach Graham will serve this penalty at his new institution
- A reduction of one paid official visit for a prospective student-athlete during the 2019-2020 academic year and a reduction of 18 days of unofficial visits for prospective student-athletes in football during the 2019-2020 academic year
- A seven-day off-campus recruiting ban for the football coaching staff for the 2020 spring off-campus recruiting period and a 10-day off-campus recruiting ban for the football coaching staff for the 2020 fall off-campus recruiting period.
- A previously self-imposed off-campus recruiting ban for the entire football coaching staff for November 2019, which reduced the permissible evaluation days for the 2019-20 academic year by 19
- The university will develop and implement a comprehensive educational program on NCAA legislation to instruct coaches and all athletics department personnel and institutional staff members on their responsibilities regarding NCAA recruiting legislation
- The university ended its recruitment of the prospect and will not recruit any prospects from the prospect’s high school through spring 2021
- A fine of $5,000
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the panel noted that it could impact how the remaining recruiting restrictions are implemented.
To read the NCAA’s full statement, click here.