NCAA places Florida football program on probation over recruiting violations

Zach Abolverdi
Gainesville Sun

The NCAA handed down a one-year show-cause order Tuesday for Florida coach Dan Mullen as part of more than a dozen penalties for recruiting contact violations, according to a release by the Division I Committee on Infractions.

Mullen, an unnamed assistant coach, UF and NCAA enforcement staff agreed that Mullen and the assistant had impermissible in-person contact with a recruit when they met with his high school coach while the recruit was in the room. Mullen had sent the prospects texts about his plans to visit the high school and his interest in the recruit, which was later expressed at the meeting. 

Florida Gators Head Coach Dan Mullen

The violations were Level II, violating NCAA rules that prohibit off-campus recruiting contact prior to a recruit’s junior year.

Florida staff members also had impermissible contact with approximately 127 prospects when seven 7-on-7 teams visited campus and toured the football facilities before a tournament in Tampa. The assistant coach had incidental impermissible contacts with several prospects, deemed Level III violations. 

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Mullen agreed that he did not promote a compliant atmosphere due to his involvement in the Level II violations. Mullen and the unnamed assistant coach are on one-year probation and must pay a fine of $5,000.

“As Head Football Coach of the Florida Gators, promoting an atmosphere of compliance within our program is important to me,” Mullen said in a statement. “Following the rules and being committed to doing things the right way is part of my history as a coach, at all levels, and I regret we didn’t do things the right way in this situation. 

“Even though this is an isolated matter, I'm still disappointed in the violations outlined in the report. We’re going to learn from our mistakes and I’m confident this won’t happen again. Most importantly, we’ll keep working for the benefit of our student athletes to make our program one our fans and University can be proud of.”

UF athletics director Scott Stricklin also released a statement regarding the NCAA decision.

“There is no evidence of systemic compliance issues at Florida, but when isolated circumstances occur they are addressed head on and we accept responsibility for our actions, as evidenced by this instance,” Stricklin said. “NCAA rules are in place to create fairness and integrity, and the University of Florida has an established history of adhering to those rules. It is important for our coaches and staff to remain diligent and take responsibility for compliance, and extricate themselves from potential NCAA violations.”

The full list of penalties approved by the Committee on Infractions includes:

• One year of probation.

• A $5,000 fine.

• Reduced fall 2019 evaluations from 42 to 21.

• Reduced football evaluation days by 12 for the 2018-19 academic year.

• Restrictions on all recruiting telephone calls with football prospects from April 15 through May 31, 2019.

* A reduction in the number of football official visits during the 2019-20 academic year by one and in the number of unofficial visits during the 2019-20 academic year by 14.

• A one-year show-cause order for the head football coach. During that period, the head coach is prohibited from all off-campus recruiting activity during the fall 2020 evaluation period and a four-day off-campus recruiting ban during the fall 2021 contact period.

• The university banned the head coach from recruiting for the first 10 days of the January 2020 contact period.

• A 30-day off-campus recruiting ban for the head coach during the fall 2019 evaluation period.

• The university ended the recruitment of the prospect.

•The university will not recruit any prospects from the high school in Seattle from the 2019-20 through 2020-21 academic years.

• A seven-day off-campus recruiting ban for the entire football coaching staff during the spring 2021 off-campus recruiting period.

• A 30-day off-campus recruiting ban for the assistant coach in October 2019 and a three-day off-campus recruiting ban for the January 2020 contact period.

•One-on-one rules education for both the head coach and assistant coach regarding NCAA contact and evaluation rules.