Former UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble responds to NCAA allegations
I can't wait for these guys to get lit up by the Cards on an annual basis. Also, as it mentions in the last paragraph...UCF's football program is already on probation, so they will likely be slapped with a more severe punishment as a "repeat violator"
UCF issued its response to the NCAA notice of allegations Monday, opting not to impose a postseason ban
By Iliana Limón, Orlando Sentinel
8:09 p.m. EST, February 20, 2012
Tribble was forced to resign after the NCAA asserted he helped former AAU basketball coach Ken Caldwell, who was allegedly working for a professional sports agent, and former college basketball player Brandon Bender steer recruits to UCF. The NCAA also alleged Tribble tried to arrange a job for the mother of a UCF football recruit, helped Caldwell's son receive a waiver for in-state tuition and provided free game tickets to Caldwell.
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Caldwell is the former mentor of UCF senior point guard A.J. Rompza and he considers Bender a close friend. Caldwell and Bender have asserted in interviews with the Orlando Sentinel they do not work for professional agents and did not violate any NCAA rules by speaking highly of UCF athletics.
"Tribble agrees that Ken Caldwell and Brandon Bender were impermissibly involved in the recruitment of prospects and that as the director of athletics, he should have taken action to try to stop the activity," Tribble's attorney Scott Tompsett wrote in his response to the NCAA. "However, Tribble vigorously disagrees that he violated the principles of ethical conduct by knowingly violating NCAA legislation or by reporting false information to the enforcement staff."
UCF and Tribble both released copies of written responses they sent the NCAA, the latest step in an ongoing investigation into the recruiting practices of the football and men's basketball programs.
UCF self imposed penalties in response to the NCAA's allegations of major recruiting violations, including eliminating one men's basketball scholarship for the next two years, vacating past men's basketball wins and adding a variety of new football and men's basketball recruiting restrictions.
Tribble's response to the NCAA states he is embarrassed by his lack of knowledge of NCAA recruiting rules he should have been familiar with while serving as UCF's athletic director. It states he was not aware Caldwell and Bender were violating NCAA rules actively promoting UCF. The response went on to state Tribble was not aware Caldwell and Bender provided 11 football and men's basketball recruits with $16,005.74 worth of benefits starting in March 2009.
Tribble's attorney insisted the former athletic director was simply trying to see if a job transfer was available for football recruit DaMarcus Smith's mother, who was employed in Louisville and was interested in following her son to Orlando. The statement indicates Tribble has placed the same sort of phone calls on behalf of people who are not UCF athletes, a key NCAA standard for determining if it is a violation. The attorney notes Tribble dropped the issue once he learned there was no transfer job option available for Smith's mother in Orlando.
Tribble's statement also asserts he did not violate the NCAA's principles of ethical conduct and provide false or misleading information to investigators, a charge that prompted UCF President John Hitt to seek his resignation in November.
"The totality of the information shows that Tribble was not trying to mislead the staff," Tribble's NCAA response states. "Tribble was open and candid about his relationship with Caldwell and the fact that Caldwell had been involved with prospects and UCF student-athletes. Tribble did his best to cooperate having never been through an NCAA infractions investigation and trying to answer questions to the best of his ability without any preparation and without assistance from legal counsel."
The statement indicates Tribble provided Caldwell with free access to UCF basketball games, but he argued Caldwell's son was legitimately hired to help an academically at-risk basketball player.
While Tribble fought to clear his name, UCF informed the NCAA Monday it plans to self impose or already has imposed the following sanctions as a result of the investigation:
-- Place UCF Athletics on probation for three years, which prompts extensive NCAA compliance oversight.
-- Vacate all men's basketball wins for the 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.
-- Drop from 13 to 12 men's basketball scholarships for the next two years.
-- Reduce the number of football coaches allowed to simultaneously recruit off campus from seven to six during the next two academic years.
-- Reduce the number men's basketball coaches allowed to simultaneously recruit off campus from three to two during the next two academic years.
-- Prohibit men's basketball coaches from engaging in off campus recruiting during two of three evaluation July periods during the next two academic years
-- Reduce the number of men's basketball recruiting days by 25 during the next two academic years.
-- Limit football official visits to 27 per year and basketball official visits to seven per year for the next two academic years. It represents a 20 percent reduction in UCF's average official visits during the past four years. -- Issued letters of reprimand to UCF basketball head coach Donnie Jones, assistant basketball coach Darren Tillis and football head coach George O'Leary. Jones was suspended for the first three Conference USA games, while Tillis was suspended for two Conference USA games.
-- Tillis and Jones are not eligible for bonuses or salary increases for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years.
-- UCF added a variety of changes to its compliance department to enhance oversight of its athletic programs.
UCF officials also noted they took major action, forcing assistant football coach David Kelly and Tribble to resign. The school suspended Jones and Tillis and withheld senior point guard A.J. Rompza from competition until the NCAA reinstated his eligibility.
The Knights opted not to self impose harsher penalties, including postseason bans.
UCF is slated to appear before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in April, where it will be questioned about the allegations and its compliance about NCAA rules. The committee will then deliberate and determine whether UCF's self imposed sanctions were sufficient or the Knights should be hit with more penalties. Tribble, Kelly and Jones are expected to be represented at the NCAA Committee on Infractions hearing by personal attorneys and protest the allegations made about them.
The New York Times and ESPN.com first reported in April 2011 Caldwell, a Chicago resident, may have been operating as a runner -- a middleman between professional agents and recruits considering playing football and basketball at UCF. However, the two media outlets also quoted other sources who referred to Caldwell as a boastful person who often overstates his credentials. The media outlets alleged Caldwell acted as a representative of the university in violation of NCAA rules.
Once the NCAA indicated Caldwell was affiliated with a professional agent, payments Rompza received from his mentor became a violation of NCAA rules. Rompza was declared ineligible for the first 12 games of the basketball season and had to repay $900 he received. Rompza's ties to Caldwell prompted UCF to vacate wins during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons at UCF.
The notice stated, "It is alleged between March 2009 and July 2011, Ken Caldwell, a recruiter for a professional sports agency, and Brandon Bender, an associate of Caldwell's, assisted the institution in recruitment of six men's basketball and five football prospective student-athletes by promoting the institution's athletics programs. …Certain institutional staff members were aware of Caldwell's and Bender's activities while others involved Caldwell and Bender in the recruitment of specific prospective student athletes."
Hitt noted Rompza was the sole person tied to the investigation who ever played for UCF, saying the other athletes either failed to qualify or simply chose not to attend the school.
UCF has since officially disassociated itself from Caldwell and Bender.
Tribble and Kelly were accused of providing "false and misleading information to the institution and [NCAA] enforcement staff."
The allegations were outlined in 16-page report released in November. UCF was initially given 90 days to respond to the allegations. The deadline was extended until today.
UCF President John Hitt named retired Admiral Al Harms UCF's interim athletic director. New UCF Athletic Director Todd Stansbury is slated to formally take over on March 1.
The UCF football program previous ran afoul of NCAA rules, with two former football staff members caught placing impermissible cell phone calls and sending impermissible text messages to recruits. The accumulation of cell phone call violations became a major infraction. UCF is still on probation for the football infractions, which means the school could face tougher penalties as a repeat violator of major NCAA rules.
UCF hired attorney Michael Glazier, a former NCAA investigator, to assist with its internal investigation into its recruiting practices and response to the NCAA allegations.