June 7, 2013 11:06:18 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- The NCAA placed the Mississippi State University football program on probation for two years and reduced the number of its scholarships from 85 to 83 Friday as the result of an investigation by the NCAA Committee of Infractions into improprieties in the recruiting of Will Redmond, a defensive back from Memphis.
MSU also will have the number of its official visits reduced from 41 to 39 for two years and the number of recruiting days in the spring evaluation period reduced from 168 to 164. The NCAA COI accepted the penalties that were self imposed by MSU. MSU spokesperson Joe Galbraith said Friday the school has met all of the recruiting sanctions accept for the reduction in scholarships.
Former MSU wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando was given a one-year show cause ban from coaching at a NCAA institution for "unethical conduct for failing to report the booster's activities when he became aware of them and providing false information during his first two interviews with the NCAA."
Essentially, the NCAA accepted the university's self-imposed penalties. It did not choose to reduce the number of scholarships beyond what the university had recommended.
According to the NCAA release, a booster, who was later identified as Robert Denton Herring, "befriended a top Mississippi State recruit and began arranging for him to use cars, gave him cash and provided other benefits."
The NCAA investigation found that "during the recruitment, the booster exchanged more than 100 phone calls with the recruit, assisted the recruit in securing a car to drive to a campus visit, and provided cash to the recruit on multiple occasions. Additionally, the booster and his friend provided a car to the recruit for approximately $2,000 below the actual value of the car. Prior to taking an official visit to another school, the booster told the recruit that if he did not take the visit, the recruit would be paid $6,000."
The penalties mark the third time in 20 years the MSU football program has been punished for major violations. The school also was sanctioned in 1994 and 2003.
MSU officials declined to comment on the matter Thursday. School representatives still were formulating the school's response Friday morning after the NCAA announced its the ruling.
On Aug. 23, The Dispatch reported the NCAA was conducting an investigation into a "potential recruiting irregularity" involving the MSU football program. Sources close to the situation confirmed to The Dispatch the investigation, at least in part, involved an automobile purchased for MSU freshman defensive back Will Redmond, a highly-coveted recruit from Memphis. The Ford Mustang was purchased from a used car dealership in Memphis before Redmond signed with MSU in February 2012.
On that same day in August, MSU officials released a two-sentence statement saying the school "over the last several months has worked in cooperation with the NCAA to examine a potential recruiting irregularity." The statement also said the investigation is "nearing the end."
Less than a month later, Byron De'Vinner of Memphis, who coached Redmond in a summer program, went into detail about the improper benefits he encountered during Redmond's recruitment in a interview with Yahoo! Sports. De'Vinner went into details about arrangements for lodging and complementary meals in a Yahoo! Sports report.
The NCAA also interviewed De'Vinner because of his ties to multiple players in Memphis who are on his summer 7-on-7 team.
De'Vinner also named the booster, whose name was redacted from the documents obtained by The Dispatch, as Robert Denton Herring of Roswell, Ga. Herring is a former MSU football season-ticket holder. MSU has disassociated itself with Herring due to what its legal counsel described in letters to Herring as "impermissible contact with the prospective student-athlete."
On a state-wide radio show in August, De'Vinner said Mirando "was aware" of the improper benefits. De'Vinner said he was introduced to Mirando in June 2011 and Mirando later "sent him a message on Facebook, gave me his number to call him."
Mirando resigned from his position at MSU later in August, citing only "personal reasons." His resignation came less than two weeks before the Bulldogs' 2012 season-opening game against Jackson State University. Former University of Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster replaced Mirando. Brewster left MSU this past offseason for Florida State University.
Redmond didn't play last season and is eligible for a redshirt season.
Here are the penalties, as contained in the NCAA Committee of Infractions report:
■ Public reprimand and censure.
■ Two years of probation from June 7, 2013 through June 6, 2015.
■ A one-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach, which prevents him from recruiting activities and booster interaction.
■ A reduction of the number of official visits to 39, from the four-year average of 41, for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years (Self-imposed by the university).
■ A reduction of the number of recruiting days during the spring evaluation period by four, from 168 to 164, for the 2013-14 academic year (Self-imposed by the university).
■ A reduction in the number of total scholarships by two, from 85 to 83, for the 2012-13 academic year (Self-imposed by the university).
■ A reduction in the number of initial and total scholarships by two, from 25 to 23 and 85 to 83, respectively, for the 2013-14 academic year (Self-imposed by the university).
■ For the first two conference contests of the 2013 season, complimentary admissions to football recruits will be prohibited (Self-imposed by the university).
■ Disassociation of the booster by the university s athletics program. Details of the disassociation can be found in the public report (Self-imposed by the university).