West Virginia placed on probation for NCAA recruiting violations

West Virginia has been placed under probation by the NCAA for recruiting violations

The NCAA placed West Virginia's athletic department on two years' probation Wednesday for recruiting violations involving illegal text messages and phone calls in 14 sports.

The NCAA said a Division I infractions committee determined that coaches in 14 sports sent impermissible texts and made phone calls to prospects and parents between June 2010 and February 2013. Most of the infractions occurred in women's gymnastics, football, women's basketball and women's soccer.

Most of the women's gymnastics violations were committed by one assistant coach, who was placed under a one-year show-cause penalty, cannot recruit during a 30-day signing period and must attend an NCAA regional rules seminar.

The committee determined that infractions in other sports were limited.

The NCAA said several coaches involved in the violations believed there was a misunderstanding in some of the recruiting communication rules.

“Additionally, the school did not fully understand how to use compliance software it purchased to monitor phone and text activity,” the NCAA said. “It wasn't until the software company updated the software that the school learned of the violations.”

The NCAA said the violations occurred while the school was on two years' probation from a previous infractions case involving out-of-season coaching and the use of non-coaching staff to work with players.

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons was named last month to succeed Oliver Luck, who left for a position with the NCAA. Lyons said he was aware of the issue when he interviewed for the job.

“While I am disappointed with today's NCAA report, I do take note that our department found the infractions, self-reported them and worked with the NCAA in full cooperation to address and correct the issues,” Lyons said. “I am confident that the department has taken the necessary steps to correct its compliance and recruiting software program, re-educate the staff on updated NCAA changes on the rules surrounding text messages and phone calls and fulfilled our obligations to the NCAA concerning the situation long before I started as athletic director back on Feb. 2.

“Moving forward, I expect our department to continue its strong dedication to NCAA compliance.”

In addition to the probation, West Virginia self-imposed penalties adopted by the panel that include a reduction of telephone contacts in the 14 sports for portions of the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years, reduced off-campus recruiting in football, women's soccer, women's basketball and men's basketball, and official visit restrictions in women's soccer.

The football team also was stripped of one scholarship for the 2013-14 academic year.

Associate athletic director Keli Cunningham said there was no failure to monitor, lack of institutional control or failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

“There was no systemic effort by any of our coaches to violate the rules or gain a significant recruiting advantage, and that is reflected by the NCAA's decision,” Cunningham said. “We take this very seriously and we accept the NCAA's findings.” The probation period runs through Feb. 17, 2017.

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