“This case is narrow in scope, relatively straight-forward,” said committee on infractions chairman Britton Banowsky, the commissioner of Conference USA, in a NCAA teleconference.
So are the penalties. Bulldog football will give up two scholarships from both the initial (recruiting) limit of 25 for the 2013-14 academic year, which will in-turn leave the total at 83 for the coming season. A penalty of two scholarships off the 85 total was already self-imposed this past school year and thus has been served.
So has a reduction in spring period recruiting days of four, from 168 to 164, for the past school year been served, along with the first of two years with reduction in official visits to 39 each year. This, interestingly, was a cut of just two from the four-year average of 41 official visits, which is well under the maximum allowed by the NCAA.
Another interesting penalty is State will have no complimentary admissions or paid visits to recruits for the first two Southeastern Conference games of the coming season. What matters to MSU is that all these penalties have been self-imposed or suggested as such to the NCAA, and the infractions committee accepted them.
“The University did a great job once they became aware of the problem to investigate it, looking internally at various self-imposed penalties,” Banowsky said. “And when we got to the hearing they cooperated with the enforcement staff. We were very appreciative of the way the University responded, that’s the way it should be in cases like these.”
The infractions committee is made up of conference commissioners, athletic directors, or member school presidents. It is not the investigative arm of the NCAA, but hears cases presented.
The case involves illegal contact and actions by a Mississippi State alumnus and supporter, with Memphis, Tn., prospect and Bulldog signee Will Redmond. The freshman cornerback, who redshirted in 2012, is not mentioned in the report or penalties, and presumably in good graces for the 2013 season. Redmond practiced all fall, during bowl camp, and then this spring and was running second-team at cornerback.
Asked specifically about Redmond, “I believe all the eligibility issues in the case have been resolved,” was Banowsky’s only answer.
Nor did the chairman name specifically former coach Angelo Mirando, who lost his job last August when Mississippi State made public this matter. Mirando, promoted from graduate assistant to wide receivers coach in January 2011, was the lead recruiter in Memphis. At some point, not laid out by the NCAA, Mirando became aware a booster was involved with then-prospect Redmond.
In NCAA officialese, “The booster befriended a top Mississippi State recruit and began arranging for him to use cars, gave him cash and provided other benefits.” The NCAA cited “more than 100 phone calls” with the recruit, multiple occasions where cash was provided, and eventually arranging for purchase of a car at “approximately $2,000 below the actual value”.
Also, before a visit to an un-named school, the booster said he would pay the player $6,000 not to take the visit.
Thus, Banowsky said, “It is serious because it involves a booster and alumnus involved heavily with recruiting a student-athlete, and a coach who was aware and didn’t report it and wasn’t honest in reporting.”
Per NCAA findings, Mirando “developed a relationship with the booster” and thus learned of these illegal actions but failed to tell his boss or MSU officials. Later, in two initial interviews with State and the NCAA, Mirando at first denied knowing of these activities.
After his resignation prior to the 2012 season though Mirando cooperated. He did not have to appear at the infractions hearing, as by then he was not a MSU employee, yet did so and accepted responsibility and helped the committee assess the violations and circumstances. Though as a result Mirando is under a one year ‘show cause’ Banowsky noted his cooperation.
What matters more now to Mississippi State is that not only is the case resolved, but that the current football staff is in the clear. “The committee wasn’t presented any evidence at all that either the head coach had any ideas was going on, or the University,” Banowsky confirmed. “We didn’t have any information to suggest that was the case.”
Banowsky also noted that “almost all” penalties were indeed self-imposed by Mississippi State. Which is now known to have been a response to actions learned about after-the-fact.
“I’d like to say this is a classic case of a booster inserting himself into the recruiting process of a school, so they will be better-positioned to win more games,” Banowsky said. “When a school employee knows about this, it becomes more serious.”
Even so, “I think Mississippi State did a great job, again, once made aware of a problem stepping up and doing a thorough investigation and trying to get to the bottom of it and taking actions once aware of the scope of the problem. I’m sure that was reflected in the reaction of the committee and that they accepted the penalties.”
Mississippi State official comments were pending at this writing.