LSU slapped with one-year probation for recruiting violations

By RYAN BERTHELOT, Journal Sports

BATON ROUGE — Nearly two years after allegations were levied against the LSU football program, the NCAA placed the program on a one-year probation, along with a three-year show cause penalty for former offensive line coach James Cregg.

The penalties come after LSU self-imposed a slew of their own, including a $5,000 fine, a limit on official visits to 55, a one-week prohibition of recruiting communication, and a reduction of seven evaluation days in the football program, all effective at the beginning of the 2022-2023 academic school year.

An NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions found that LSU violated recruiting rules after Cregg and an assistant director of recruiting were found to have met individually with a prospect during the COVID -19 dead period, and “provided the prospect with impermissible inducements recruiting inducements,” according to a statement released by the NCAA Thursday.

The dead period was established in March 2020, and aimed to protect prospective student athletes and staff from the threat of COVID-19. Prospective student athletes were allowed to make informal visits to their schools of interest, but nixed any in-person meetings between staffers and prospects during those meetings.

The allegations were made after the mother of an LSU prospect took 14 prospects to LSU’s campus for an informal visit, of which the football staff was aware. According to the NCAA investigation, school compliance staff met with the former head coach Ed Orgeron’s staff –including Cregg and the assistant director of recruiting — to go over the new rules and guidelines surrounding the dead period.

A mother of another prospect — who initially had planned to move to Baton Rouge if her son committed — asked Cregg about potential neighborhoods in which to live. Cregg recommended several locations, including his own neighborhood, to visit. Cregg arranged to greet the family as they drove through the neighborhood, along with a bag of used LSU gear he gave to the prospect.

The second visit occurred a week later, when the former assistant director of recruiting picked up the prospect and his girlfriend for a tour. Cregg was also cited as hosting another impromptu visit with the prospect’s mother outside of his home.

“Although the Committee on Infractions has encountered more egregious conduct in past cases, the violations in this case represent intentional misconduct that should be of concern to the membership,” the NCAA stated in a press release.

Cregg, who’s now an assistant offensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers, will be restricted from any off-campus recruiting activities by any NCAA program that employs him, unless that program is able to show cause as to why the restriction should not apply. Cregg also filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against LSU in August 2021. He was awarded $492,945.20 by District Judge Wilson E. Fields in August 2022. Cregg led the Tigers’ offensive line to the Joe Moore award in 2019, given to the nation’s best offensive line.

LSU released a statement regarding the violations Thursday afternoon:

“Today’s decision of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions involving a former LSU assistant football coach concludes a 21-month cooperative process between the University and the NCAA. Throughout this process, the University has worked in concert with the enforcement staff to determine the truth and to self-impose sanctions. We are grateful to the Committee and the enforcement staff for their work and for accepting our self-imposed penalties, and we are pleased to be able to move forward as an institution and as a football program. LSU continues to work through the IARP process regarding other allegations of rule violations.”

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