ASU self-imposes 1-year postseason ban for football program

Aug 27, 2023, 7:58 AM | Updated: 8:23 am

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches from the sidelines during the first...

Head coach Herm Edwards of the Arizona State Sun Devils watches from the sidelines during the first half of the college football game against the Utah Utes at Sun Devil Stadium on November 3, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the 38-20. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The NCAA’s investigation into illegal recruiting practices by the Arizona State Sun Devils football program has not concluded, but the program announced early Sunday it will self-impose a one-year postseason ban.

The penalty, which will be considered by the NCAA when its investigation concludes, is regarding allegations that Arizona State, then led by former head coach Herm Edwards, hosted high school recruits and committed other violations during the COVID-19 dead period.

“Arizona State University has informed the NCAA and Pac-12 conference that it will self-impose a one-year postseason ban on its football program for the upcoming season. In light of the ongoing investigation and our membership obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the matter, we will not be commenting further at this time,” Ray Anderson, ASU’s vice president for Athletics said in a news release.

Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel reported in detail more than two years ago that former defensive coordinator, associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Antonio Pierce allegedly led the charge in pushing the boundaries of allowing recruits to visit Arizona State’s campus during the dead period over a span of months before recruiting reopened in June 2021.

How he pushed other coaches to do the same, Thamel added, led to disgruntled current and former employees. An anonymous ex-Sun Devil staffer submitted pages of evidence of recruiting violations in a detailed dossier, which sparked the investigation.

Thamel’s sources told him that ASU coaches deliberately and consistently broke rules, and that Edwards met with recruits during the dead period. The evidence that was handed over included a picture of Edwards with a recruit.

At least 30 recruits visited, taking late-night facility tours and bumping into coaches in a back stairwell, according to Thamel.

“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.”

A later allegation reported by Yahoo! involved former starting quarterback Jayden Daniels’ mom, Regina Jackson, who reportedly helped arrange and pay for recruits and their plane tickets.

Jackson denied the allegations, telling Thamel that the Google email address associated with the account that was purchasing the plane tickets had been compromised.

She added that she canceled the charges after it was discovered she had been charged for the airfare, while Daniels was not accused of any wrongdoing.

Then-tight ends coach Adam Breneman, defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins and receivers coach Prentice Gill were also connected to the details in the story.

Breneman, Gill and Hawkins were placed on administrative leave before the 2021 season kicked off and later departed the team.

It came to a head as 2022 began. It was revealed they left the program in January 2022, just as offensive coordinator Zak Hill resigned. Shortly after, to begin February, Pierce stepped away from the program.

Pierce resigned on National Signing Day as his Sun Devils’ 2022 recruiting class ranked 105th in the nation, per 247 Sports. It had never rated lower than 65th since the 247 Sports recruiting rankings database began in 1999.

Edwards was fired three games into the 2022 season, and interim Shaun Aguano took over for the Sun Devils, who posted a 3-9 record.

ASU hired former Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham to replace Edwards.

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