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Utah men's basketball sanctioned for recruiting violations

Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak talks with his players during a timeout as Utah and Colorado play in the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. Utah won 78-69.
Utah Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak talks with his players during a timeout as Utah and Colorado play in the Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019. Utah won 78-69.

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah men’s basketball program has been sanctioned for the NCAA for Level II mitigated recruiting violations. The penalties do not include any postseason ban, the loss of scholarships or firings.

Mark Harlan, Utah’s director of athletics, came to the conclusion that the violations were inadvertent after studying the facts and following conversations he’s had about the situation.

“I think when you come to that conclusion what you want to do is support the person because you believe he has integrity — and that certainly is the case here,“ he said. “But also be self-reflective of the things that we can do to make sure we help our coaches not make repetitive mistakes of that nature — to which we’ve done. So we’ve emerged better because of all this.”

In a statement released Tuesday morning, the NCAA said that “the Utah men’s basketball program conducted impermissible recruiting activities and the head coach failed to meet his responsibility to monitor his staff and promote rules compliance.”

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel also noted that the recruiting violations came over a seven-day period in April of 2018 when “an assistant coach misapplied recruiting rules and believed off-campus recruiting activities were allowed during a quiet period. Acting on the misunderstanding, the committee said the assistant coach conducted an evaluation of a recruit at a community college, and the full men’s basketball coaching staff visited a second recruit at his high school during the quiet period.”

The report said that the associate head coach (Tommy Connor) coordinated with a local community college (Salt Lake Community College) head coach to get a high school prospect to visit the university while in the area on a trip paid for by the community college. Since that coach arranged the trip, he was classified as a booster. The trip to Utah was declared official, causing the Utes to exceed their allowable number of recruiting visits.

In its ruling, the committee said that Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak violated NCAA head coach control rules by not promoting compliance and monitoring his staff to ensure rules were being followed. The NCAA did note, however, that Krystkowiak immediately reported the off-campus recruiting violations to compliance.

“While they were inadvertent and unintentional mistakes on our part, and there was never an intent to circumvent any rules, we accept that they were violations and, as the head coach, I am accountable for them,” Krystkowiak said in a released statement. “I have always been a strong proponent of protecting the integrity of college basketball and that will not change.”

A university press release said the violations involved the “misreading of the NCAA calendar and a misinterpretation of the official visit limitations.”

Utah was also deemed to have committed a Level III violation when the coaching staff "observed the head coach’s prospect-aged son participating with members of the men’s basketball team in a practice activity.” The committee ruled it as an impermissible tryout.

Krystkowiak initially received a two-game suspension for the recruiting violations. However, a successful appeal resulted in no ban. After a hearing, the NCAA committee “determined the violations were unintentional, limited and not indicative of systemic problems. For those reasons, the committee did not prescribe the suspension it initially proposed.”

The following penalties, though, was handed down (as per NCAA.org) for the infractions:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
  • A prohibition of all four countable men’s basketball coaches from off-campus recruiting for a five-day period from July 11-15, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
  • A reduction of men’s basketball in-person recruiting days from 130 to 113 for the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
  • A three-week ban on men’s basketball unofficial visits and complimentary admissions beginning Nov. 2, 2018 (self-imposed by the university)
  • A reduction in the number of men’s basketball official visits by two in 2018-19, representing an 8% reduction in visits, based on the four-year average (self-imposed by the university).
  • A one-year show-cause order for the associate head coach. The terms of the show-cause include:
  • A one-week suspension for the associate head coach from Nov. 13-19, 2018 (self-imposed by the university). Note: Connor also lost his contractual designation from the U. as the “coach in waiting.”
  • Required attendance at a 2019 Regional Rules Seminar (self-imposed by the university).
  • A prohibition of off-campus recruiting activities during July 2019.
  • A one-year disassociation of the community college head coach.
  • A prohibition from men’s basketball coaches from the community college participating in any official or unofficial visits on the Utah campus for one year. Further for one year, Utah will not recruit any prospects from the community college (self-imposed by the university).
  • Attendance at an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar by the two assistant men’s basketball coaches (self-imposed by the university).