Former LSU offensive line coach James Cregg admits he broke NCAA rules in lawsuit versus school

Glenn Guilbeau
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

BATON ROUGE - Former LSU offensive line coach James Cregg admitted to breaking NCAA recruiting rules in a lawsuit he has filed against LSU for breach of contract over his firing in June.

Cregg's lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday on his 48th birthday in Baton Rouge state court, acknowledges that he admitted to an NCAA enforcement official in May that he visited and provided gear "to a team prospect during the COVID recruiting dead period."

LSU announced it had "parted ways" with Cregg in a release on June 2. Cregg's offensive line received the Joe Moore Award - given to the nation's top offensive line - in 2019 when the Tigers won the national championship.  

James Cregg was LSU's offensive line coach from 2018-20 and coached with LSU coach Ed Orgeron at USC and Tennessee and was an NFL offensive line coach with the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver and Oakland.

"You also admitted to knowing such contact was impermissible when you engaged in the conduct," says a letter from LSU coach Ed Orgeron to Cregg dated June 2 that is included in the lawsuit. "This knowing violation of NCAA rules constitutes cause."

If Cregg's firing with cause holds up, he would not receive the remainder of his $700,000 salary package owed to him for the remaining months of the last year of his contract in 2021.

LSU has refused since June to release such correspondence to the Lafayette Advertiser, which has made public records requests for the information.

Cregg contends in the lawsuit that LSU fired him without regard to any NCAA findings on his conduct with a recruit.

The NCAA has been investigating the LSU football and basketball programs for more than three years regarding alleged recruiting violations involving at least 13 prospects in basketball and three violations in football. That investigation was scheduled to be completed by July 31, but the NCAA recently extended the it.

OPINION:NCAA probe of LSU referred to panel for "complex infractions"

Last August, the case was moved to the Independent Accountability Review Process, which focuses on complex and more serious cases. 

"The NCAA has never issued a ruling or decision that coach Cregg has committed a Level I or Level II violation," the lawsuit says in reference to the most serious of NCAA violations, "or repeated Level III and/or Level IV violations."

Cregg's lawsuit contends he was fired without cause, which would mean he would receive the remainder of his contract. The lawsuit also says Cregg never received a hearing with LSU that he requested and that LSU "intentionally hired" Arkansas offensive line coach Brad Davis to replace him before he was terminated. Davis announced he was leaving Arkansas on June 4 - two days after Cregg's dismissal.

LSU announced Davis' hiring on June 10.

"Coach Cregg looks forward to working with LSU in the future to bring this matter to a resolution acceptable for everyone involved," Cregg's attorneys Christopher Whittington and Robert Campbell of Baton Rouge said in a statement released Thursday.

MORE:LSU offensive line coach James Cregg's unit has quietly improved

Cregg coached with Orgeron at Tennessee in 2009 and at USC from 2010-13. Orgeron raved about Cregg's NFL experience when he hired him at LSU in 2018. Cregg coached the offensive line with the Oakland Raiders in 2007 and '08, the Denver Broncos from 2014-16 and the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017.

Davis has no NFL coaching experience and is in his seventh coaching job in eight years - James Madison (2014), East Carolina (2015), North Texas (2016), Florida (2017), Missouri (2018-19), Arkansas (2020) and LSU (2021).