Mississippi State’s self-imposed penalties on its football program for recruiting violations were apparently about what the violations merited.
The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions Friday largely accepted the university’s sanctions, which included two years of probation and scholarship reductions after a report concluded that a booster provided a car and cash to a recruit.
”We worked in close and full cooperation with the NCAA in every phase of this process,” Mississippi State President Mark Keenum said in a statement. ”I am pleased that the Committee on Infractions recognized our good faith efforts to meet this issue head-on by taking swift action to administer self-imposed penalties and additional corrective actions to address the situation.”
The NCAA report also revealed that former Mississippi State assistant coach Angelo Mirando was aware of the booster’s actions but failed to report the violations.
Mirando, who resigned on Aug. 19 just days before the school announced the NCAA’s investigation, was cited for unethical conduct and given a one-year show-cause penalty, which hinders his ability to secure employment at the college level.
According to the NCAA’s report, a Mississippi State booster provided improper benefits to a recruit, including a car for $2,000 below the actual value.
The booster also provided the unnamed recruit – identified in media reports as defensive back Will Redmond – with cash on several occasions and offered him $6,000 to not take an official visit to another school.
The university released a statement saying the athlete involved – without specifically mentioning Redmond – must repay $2,660 in impermissible benefits, was suspended for the entire 2012 season and will miss the first five games of the upcoming season.
Mississippi State will be on probation until June 6, 2015 and lose two scholarships for the upcoming season. There are also recruiting penalties, including a loss of official visits.
Mirando, according to the report, ”became aware of the improper recruiting activity but did not report it to university officials.” The report also says Mirando denied knowledge of the booster’s activities in two initial interviews by the NCAA and university, but acknowledged he was aware after resigning from MSU in August.
The NCAA’s penalties end a review of Mississippi State’s football program that lasted more than a year. The program will have several recruiting restrictions over the next year, including a reduction in official visits and recruiting days.
The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions chairman Britton Banowsky said during a Friday morning conference call that the violation was serious, but ”narrow in scope and very straightforward.” He praised the university for its cooperation and said Mirando provided information after initial denials, even though he was not required to talk with the committee.
Banowsky said there was no evidence that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen was aware of the recruiting violations until they were brought to the school’s attention. He said it was a ”classic case” where a booster complicated the recruiting process.
Mississippi State first announced in August that it was working with the NCAA because of ”potential recruiting irregularities.”
Mirando suddenly resigned on Aug. 19 and the school announced the investigation days later. The university says it has also disassociated from two boosters.
A Tennessee 7-on-7 football coach Byron De’Vinner said he witnessed a payment of about $200 to a Mississippi State recruit and that Mirando knew about the payment. The 27-year-old Mirando was on Mullen’s staff for a little over a year before his departure.
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin said earlier this week that the department took the NCAA’s investigation seriously.
”We’re always going to be aggressive at correcting (problems) and making sure we”re doing things the right way,” Stricklin said. ”If there’s something we think is there, we’re going to pull the rug all the way back, find the issue and address it.”
Mississippi State finished with an 8-5 record last season, winning its first seven games of the season before losing five of six, including a 34-20 loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.