Blue and Gold Illustrated

March 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 6 of 83 MARCH 2021 7 BY PATRICK ENGEL N otre Dame was placed on proba- tion for one year, issued a $5,000 fine and handed a few recruiting visit restrictions for three minor recruiting violations, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions announced Jan. 21. The penalties stem from a former assistant coach's impermissible con- tact with a Seattle-based recruit, im- permissible texts to a recruit and head coach Brian Kelly impermissibly pos- ing for a photo with a prospect. The NCAA's findings say the ex- assistant "met privately with the pros- pect at his high school before July 1 after the completion of his junior year of high school. During that meeting, the former assistant coach expressed the school's interest in recruiting the prospect. The former assistant football coach also had exchanged impermis- sible text messages with another pros- pect on 10 occasions." The meeting with the recruit took place on Jan. 15, 2019, according to the NCAA's case document. The player was a class of 2020 prospect. Notre Dame terminated the assistant coach in January 2020. Based on the timeline of the coach's departure and Blue & Gold Illustrat- ed's record of staff recruiting visits on Jan. 15, the assistant is believed to be former cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght. The prospect is believed to be defensive end Sav'ell Smalls, a four- star recruit from Seattle's Garfield High School who eventually signed with Washington. Florida and Texas A&M were previ- ously handed NCAA punishments for violations of recruiting rules due to impermissible contact with a recruit in Seattle. The Athletic reported in December that both cases stemmed from contact with Smalls at Garfield before July 1, 2019. Lyght sent the 10 impermissible texts to a class of 2021 recruit from July 17 to Aug. 19, 2019, or before Sept. 1. Coaches are not allowed to directly contact junior prospects until Sept. 1. "The assistant football coach mis- takenly believed him to be a 2020 prospect and sent him one text mes- sage July 17, 2019; three text messages August 7, 2019; and six text messages August 9, 2019," the NCAA's full re- port reads. Kelly's photo with a recruit was deemed a Level III violation, the lowest kind in the NCAA's penalty structure. The NCAA investigation found that "after initially declining a request, the head football coach im- permissibly posed for a photo with another prospect while visiting the prospect's high school during the fall evaluation period." The photo was taken in October 2019 at a high school in Pickering- ton, Ohio, with a class of 2021 recruit "while visiting Pickerington during the fall football evaluation period, the head football coach was being es- corted through the high school's caf- eteria when the football prospective student-athlete recognized the head football coach and requested a photo with him. The head football coach ini- tially declined, but ultimately allowed the photo." The infractions for Notre Dame and the former assistant are Level II-miti- gated penalties. "Any violation of NCAA rules is unacceptable and Notre Dame takes full responsibility for its actions in this regard," Notre Dame director of ath- letics Jack Swarbrick said in a state- ment to several media outlets. "While we made clear to the NCAA that our view that the agreed-upon penalties exceeded the nature of the infractions, we accept the final outcome of the case." The full list of penalties, per the NCAA's announcement: • One year of probation, from Jan. 21, 2021 through Jan. 21, 2022. • A $5,000 fine. • A six-month show-cause order for the former assistant football coach, including a one-game suspension at any employing member school. • Reduced football official visits for the 2020-21 academic year by one. • Reduced football unofficial visits by 14 days for the 2020-21 academic year. • A seven-day off-campus recruit- ing ban for the entire football staff during the 2020-21 academic year. • The university ended the recruit- ment of the Seattle-based prospect. • The university will not recruit any prospects from the high school in Se- attle from the 2019-20 through 2021-22 academic years. If certain penalties cannot be served during the designated year due to COVID-19 complications, they will carry over to the next academic year. Probation itself does not include a bowl ban, but a violation of it could turn into one. ✦ UNDER THE DOME NCAA COMES CALLING Notre Dame fined, put on probation for lower-level recruiting violations Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish were hit with penalties for recruiting violations that occurred in 2019. PHOTO COURTESY ACC MEDIA

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - March 2021