Less than a week removed from being selected to win the Conference USA East Division title in football at C-USA's Media Day, the University of Central Florida has learned not only its football program, but also men's basketball, will face a one year ban on post-season play – among other sanctions – as NCAA officials have deemed "a lack of institutional control" was displayed by administrators who knowingly supported a system of recruitment which utilized third-party entities outside the school.
The ban from post-season play for the 2012-13 academic year – along with the addition of two years to UCF's previously proposed three years probation, vacating of basketball victories, a reduction in basketball scholarships, a $50,000 fine and the limiting of football recruiting visitation days – stems from a 2011 investigation which found both UCF football and basketball programs were knowingly involved with runners for sports agents and made cash payments for recruits to agree to play for the Knights.
The initial fallout from last year's investigation not only led to the citing of former athletics director Keith Tribble and assistant football coach David Kelly for unethical conduct by the NCAA, but too forced both men's resignation.
Greg Sankey, associate SEC commissioner and an NCAA infractions committee member, commented on the sanctions issued to UCF Tuesday, "Part of what was troubling here is there was knowledge of the representatives or third parties being involved in the recruiting process and [UCF officials] facilitated that."
That troubling scenario, coupled with the fact that UCF football just this past February got off two years probation after staff members were cited for placing "impermissible calls to perspective recruits" over between 2007 and 2009, led the Knights to be placed in the notorious category of "repeat offender," and, subsequently, hit with stiffer penalties for its latest transgressions, the Washington Post points out.
The timing of today's announcement regarding sanctions comes as the Knights prepare for its final year in C-USA prior to becoming one of several new additions to the Big East Conference in 2013.
Interesting enough, in a move echoing that by NCAA officials in the case of sanctions against Penn State University, a stipulation has been issued providing players whose eligibility comes to an end this coming season and who won't have the opportunity to play in the post-season this academic year to immediately transfer to another school without penalty.
UCF president John Hitt responded to the NCAA's announcements regarding sanctions by saying while he "generally accepts" the punishments meted out to the Knights' football and basketball programs, he doesn't feel "the violations outlined in the NCAA bylaws justify the sanctions."
Given the timing of sanctions, however, Hitt admits he is not surprised by the severity of penalties issued by collegiate athletics' governing body.
"I think most students of the NCAA and intercollegiate athletics have been forecasting that penalties would get stronger [in wake of the Penn State scandal] and become greater in months ahead," Hitt commented. "I think we're seeing that [now].
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