Tarpon Springs East Lake quarterback and UCF commit Pete DiNovo said Tuesday he was relieved when he learned about the Knights’ NCAA sanctions.
UCF was hit with extensive penalties, including one-year bans on postseason football and men’s basketball due to major infractions committed by both programs.
While the Knights will face extensive long-term recruiting limitations and will be on probation, the postseason bans won’t have any impact on the incoming class of 2013 recruits.
The NCAA announced Monday it would be announcing the penalties Tuesday morning, leaving fans representing other schools plenty of time to taunt high school seniors who have committed to UCF.
“There’s been a couple of people on Twitter that have said, before I heard that nothing bad happened, that if it comes down to that, that [I] should switch schools, and this and that,” DiNovo said. “I’m staying with that. Like I said, I’ve ignored all that and I know the Griffin twins [St. Pete Lakewood defensive backs and UCF commits Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin] have ignored that because people have said stuff like that to them as well. We weren’t worried about it at all. Now that it’s come out, I’m definitely not worried about it.”
DiNovo talked with his UCF recruiting coach, defensive backs coach Kirk Callahan, about the possible penalties Monday night and said he would stick with UCF no matter what.
The Twitter backlash DiNovo is referring to has not been uncommon for UCF commits.
UCF has 12 commitments to its 2013 recruiting class. The majority of the recruits picked UCF over other schools from automatic qualifying Bowl Championship Series conferences, meaning UCF is off to an unprecedented start in terms of both quality and quantity of recruits.
Of UCF’s 12 commits, six are from the Tampa area and four had scholarship offers from rival USF. UCF’s newfound success in the Tampa region has prompted some fans of opposing teams to lash out at UCF commitments such as the Griffin twins and Tampa Bay Tech wide receiver Richard Benjamin, even before the NCAA sanctions became a point of discussion.
“I know that Rich took some scrutiny from different fans and I know the Griffs did too,” DiNovo said. “But that doesn’t really bother them. I’ve talked to them about it and know they took all positive things people said and left all the negative things behind.”
Benjamin, who committed to UCF a week after DiNovo pledged to the Knights at the beginning of July, woke up Tuesday morning with a call from his brother informing him the postseason ban would not have an impact on the 2013 commits.
It was welcomed news for Benjamin, who said his Twitter timeline was littered with non-UCF fans predicting severe punishments for the Knights. He was not surprised with the reaction because he received negative comments when he originally committed to the Knights.
“No, not really because if something would have happened, people were Tweeting me about how I should decommit or that the situation was going to be worse, like postseason bans for a whole bunch of years and stuff like that,” Benjamin said when asked if he was startled by the barrage of negative Tweets during the past 24 hours. “I didn’t really pay attention. I just waited to see what would happen today. One postseason ban, for this season, means 2013, our class, is clear.”
Part of the NCAA sanctions includes a loss of scholarships for UCF’s football team through the next three seasons. The Knights will lose five scholarships per year, meaning the average class will only be able to accept 20 scholarship players, instead of 25.
The UCF coaching staff has operated under the assumption that there would be a loss of scholarships and has been selective in offering scholarships and accepting commitments.
With the reductions, UCF’s 2013 recruiting class is now likely more than halfway complete.
Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BSonnone or Facebook at Brendan Sonnone or at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times