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SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah’s men’s basketball program was sanctioned by the NCAA Tuesday for recruiting violations in 2018.
The issue stems from a “misreading of the NCAA calendar and a misinterpretation of the official visit limitations,” according to the university.
The Utah coaching staff visited with a recruit during the NCAA’s quiet period, or time when coaches cannot make in-person, off-campus visits. The recruit was making an unofficial visit to campus in connection with an official visit to Salt Lake Community College.
But because the recruit was brought in by former SLCC head coach Todd Phillips to the state of Utah and to the University of Utah, Phillips "became a booster," according to the NCAA report, thus making the recruit’s visit to Utah an official visit, which exceeded the school’s limit.
"Because he was a booster, the coach's contact with the prospect and the money spent to bring the prospect to the state and to the university violated NCAA recruiting rules," the report states.
Utah self-reported the recruiting violation, a Level II violation, to the NCAA after learning of the mistake.
“The University of Utah is committed to integrity in all of its endeavors,” Director of Athletics Mark Harlan said in a prepared statement. “While we take any violation of NCAA rules seriously, we are confident these actions were isolated and inadvertent and have been fully addressed by the university and the NCAA.”
Harlan said the university conducted “a comprehensive evaluation of our compliance education and monitoring practices.” He added that “additional checks and balances” have been instituted by the university as a result of the infraction.
The university self-imposed several sanctions that include a two-year probationary period, a $5,000 fine to the NCAA, a one-week suspension to the offending coach that was served in November 2018, a reprimand of the coaching staff, and recruiting limitations — for off-campus recruiting and having on-campus interactions with SLCC coaches or recruiting players from SLCC — for a one-year period.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions also imposed further sanctions that include a one-week recruiting ban on coaches in July 2019 and for the university to remove its "coach in waiting" agreement with associate head coach Tommy Connor, the report states. The NCAA also imposed a one-year ban on contact with Phillips, and a two-game suspension for head coach Larry Krystkowiak.
The suspension to Krystkowiak, though, was appealed by the university and the NCAA Committee reversed its decision since the problem was “not indicative of systemic problems.”
“While they were inadvertent and unintentional mistakes on our part, and there was never an intent to circumvent any rules, we accept that they were violations and, as the head coach, I am accountable for them,” Krystkowiak said in a statement. “I have always been a strong proponent of protecting the integrity of college basketball and that will not change.”
In September 2017, amid a national college basketball scandal, Krystkowiak was an outspoken opponent of the “cheating” in the sport.
In addition to the Level II violation, the NCAA found that Utah also committed a Level III violation because Krystkowiak's son, Cameron, who has committed to Dartmouth, had participated in a "practice activity" with the team, which the NCAA deemed to be "an impermissible tryout."
- Two years of probation.
- A $5,000 fine (self-imposed by the university).
- A prohibition of all four countable men’s basketball coaches from off-campus recruiting for a five-day period from July 11-15, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction of men’s basketball in-person recruiting days from 130 to 113 for the 2018-19 academic year (self-imposed by the university).
- A three-week ban on men’s basketball unofficial visits and complimentary admissions beginning Nov. 2, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
- A reduction in the number of men’s basketball official visits by two in 2018-19, representing an 8% reduction in visits, based on the four-year average (self-imposed by the university).
- A one-week suspension for the associate head coach from Nov. 13-19, 2018 (self-imposed by the university).
- Required attendance at a 2019 Regional Rules Seminar (self-imposed by the university).
- A prohibition of off-campus recruiting activities during July 2019.
- A one-year disassociation of the community college head coach.
- A prohibition from men’s basketball coaches from the community college participating in any official or unofficial visits on the Utah campus for one year. Further for one year, Utah will not recruit any prospects from the community college (self-imposed by the university).
- Attendance at an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar by the two assistant men’s basketball coaches (self-imposed by the university).