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NCAA investigating ASU football over potential recruiting violations

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The NCAA is investigating Arizona State’s football program over reported allegations of recruiting violations.

Per The Athletic’s Doug Haller, the investigation is looking into whether or not ASU hosted high school recruits during the COVID-19 dead period.

“ASU can confirm the NCAA is conducting an investigation regarding allegations related to our football program,” Arizona State vice president of media relations and strategic communications Katie Paquet said in a statement to Arizona Sports. “In accordance with NCAA bylaws, the university cannot provide further comment at this time.”

Haller added it’s unclear how much head coach Herm Edwards is involved in the investigation, being that he relies heavily on associate head coach and defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce for recruiting efforts.

ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura added that while the scope of the investigation will likely go back several months, “multiple Pac-12 sources have indicated they are aware of minor recruiting violations ASU has allegedly committed in just the last week.”

Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel reported in detail that Pierce led the charge in pushing the boundaries of allowing recruits to visit Arizona State’s campus during the dead period.

How he pushed other coaches to do the same, Thamel adds, led to disgruntled current and former employees.

It wasn’t uncommon for Edwards and multiple coaches to host recruits in his office. As the amount of illicit activity rose, tensions simmered in the office. Coaches said that hosting recruits would have been too common to get security officials to agree to shut the cameras off every time a recruit came into the building during a dead period.

“The people who walked the straight and narrow were forced out,” said another former staffer. “The culture that had been festering there had been able to bloom full go. I’m not surprised to hear this.”

Former offensive line coach Kevin Mawae tweeted a bible verse referencing the news: “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

Fellow former staffer Dave Christensen replied with three emojis: the thoughtful face, a surprised face and hands in prayer.

The tweets have since been deleted.

Thamel reports that an anonymous person sent the school’s athletic department “dozens of pages” of evidence regarding the recruiting practices. For the story, Yahoo! Sports interviewed more than a dozen current or former football staff members, some of whom believed coaches would take the rare step of speaking out against the recruiting practices.

“It wasn’t a secret,” said a staff member with direct knowledge of the visits. “As far as knowing everyone who came into that [football] office, the number is too big and the names are too many. They would bring in parents, their moms and dads and friends. They’d get a facility tour like they were on an official visit. They’d show you the weight room and training room. They’d show you everything.”

Last March, the NCAA stopped all in-person recruiting for a total of 15 months. High school players could still be recruited but it had to be through video calls and other virtual avenues.

ASU was hit hard by the coronavirus last season, as the team played just four games in 2020, finishing with a 2-2 record. Edwards and other members of the coaching staff tested positive for the virus over the course of the season.

Despite being bowl eligible, the Sun Devils opted against playing in a bowl game due to the strenuous year.


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