NCAA OKs penalties by LSU for violations

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PATRICK DENNIS /
LSU head football coach Les Miles is back on ESPN today.

The NCAA announced Tuesday that it accepted LSU’s self-imposed football penalties for “major violations” in recruiting mostly involving former assistant coach D.J. McCarthy and a junior college transfer player.

The NCAA placed LSU on a one-year probation through July 18, and will limit by 10 percent the number of LSU’s official recruiting visits for football this fall.

LSU’s probation will not have any impact on postseason play or television appearances as long as LSU does not get into any additional trouble.

The NCAA ruling also lessens LSU’s self-imposed penalties by counting LSU’s reduction of two football scholarships retroactively to last season, instead of for the upcoming season as LSU initially announced in December.

Last year, LSU had 83 or fewer football players on scholarship, instead of the maximum 85 scholarship players.

This fall, LSU will be able to have the full allotment of 85 scholarship players.

All of LSU’s scholarship reductions are already in the past.

The violations mostly involved improper housing, transportation and phone calls.

The NCAA cited LSU’s cooperation and quick action for avoiding tougher penalties and a lengthier probation period.

“The Committee (on Infractions) lauded LSU’s compliance staff,” said committee Chairman Dennis Thomas, commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

The NCAA report said the probation is less than the standard two years “due to the determined efforts of the institutional compliance office to investigate the situation.”

The NCAA report is separate from the investigation into scout Willie Lyles, of Complete Scouting Services, in Houston, with whom LSU has done business.

The NCAA has questioned LSU on the matter, but the investigation reportedly has focused on the University of Oregon.

Vanderbilt is the only Southeastern Conference school not to have any NCAA major violations in football.

“This is a fair outcome and we are pleased that the NCAA chose to accept our self-imposed sanctions, even giving LSU a reduced penalty of only one year of probation because of the admirable work of our compliance staff,” LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva said in a prepared statement.

As for the self-imposed penalties, LSU also will restrict its allowable recruiting phone calls during September.

LSU already reduced its recruiting class in February from 25 to 23 incoming student athletes.

LSU’s internal investigation centered on former wide receivers coach McCarthy — who resigned in December 2009 — and Akiem Hicks, a defensive lineman and junior college transfer from California.

Hicks did not play in 2009, his only season on the team.

He left LSU after the season. His scholarship was not renewed.

Hicks is playing for the University of Regina in Canada.

He did not return a cellphone message Tuesday.

Hicks was living at an off-campus apartment at an inappropriately reduced rate, which apartment complex officials admitted doing for other LSU student athletes in order to attract more business, according to LSU’s internal report.

McCarthy made excessive telephone calls to recruits beyond NCAA guidelines and Hicks accepted free transportation, according to LSU.

Hicks also received $350 from a football coach not employed by LSU, but who participated in a summer camp at LSU, according to the university report.

The NCAA ruling also accused McCarthy of attempting a “cover up” by using a second, private phone.

The NCAA penalized him with a one-year “show-cause period” that places restrictions and extra requirements for any college that hires him.

In a statement to ESPN, McCarthy said, “I am grateful that the NCAA has concluded its investigation and welcome the opportunity to someday return to the realm of college coaching. Although I disagree with the NCAA’s findings and the manner in which I have been characterized, I will take the next few days to thoroughly review all options, including appealing their decision.”

Since leaving LSU, McCarthy has worked as the national director of the WRA Receiver Academy, which runs camps and athlete training.

LSU also reported additional phone calls by non-coaching football staffers to recruits, which violated NCAA rules. The report said such calls mostly involved “routine clerical tasks” and did not give LSU “any significant recruiting advantage.”

An audit of phone records dating back to August 2008 showed 389 phone calls were placed or received by non-coaching staffers and recruits or their families.

Another 3,615 calls involved high school administrators or high school coaches, the report said. LSU dubbed the latest phone violations as “inadvertent” in the report.

The calls mostly involved logistical issues, film of recruits, football tickets for high school coaches and other routine matters, according to LSU.