Experts see more NCAA sanctions for Iowa State

The NCAA is likely to impose additional sanctions against Iowa State and current and former coaches involved in major violations, two experts said Thursday. The penalties could include recruiting restrictions and a possible suspension for men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg.

Hoiberg could face a one- to three-game suspension next season under an NCAA push to hold head coaches responsible for violations in their programs, said John Infante, former compliance director at Colorado State, who writes a popular blog about NCAA rules. He said the university also faced a possibility of losing a small number of scholarships in men’s basketball and football for the violations involving improper phone calls to recruits detailed in a 590-page report Wednesday.

Another NCAA compliance expert, David Ridpath of Ohio University, called the loss of scholarships doubtful, but agreed Hoiberg may face suspension. Both experts said six current and former Cyclones assistants involved in the violations could be subject to sanctions such as game suspensions or limits on their ability to contact recruits.

“It’s going to be a bit of a black eye for Iowa State, but it’s not going to be that horrible,” Ridpath said. “While they may go down as major violations, I don’t think you are going to be looking at bowl bans and stuff like that.”

Iowa State’s report found a former student coach for men’s basketball, Keith “Lefty” Moore, had improper contact with five recruits who he’d coached on a 15- and 16-year-old AAU team immediately prior to joining the staff. Moore sent 160 text messages, made 12 phone calls to recruits and attended at least one of their AAU games, all in violation of NCAA rules, the investigation found.

The discovery of Moore’s contacts triggered a school review of three years of phone calls to recruits that found “a significant number of recruiting communication violations involving most of its sports programs.” Coaches and employees made 1,400 calls that were not documented and contacted recruits 79 times when they weren’t supposed to, the review found. The report said “inadequate monitoring failed to detect or correct lax practices by the coaches.”

The bulk of the calls didn’t connect with recruits because they were not answered or dropped. Nonetheless, NCAA rules require them to be documented to ensure programs follow restrictions that limit the frequency of calls and bar them during dead periods.

“As silly as it might sound to some people, that’s pretty negligent. You have to keep track of your phone calls. That’s one of the basic things,” Ridpath said.

The Committee on Infractions will ultimately decide the sanctions at a future meeting, but it’s not clear when. The university is asking it to impose two years of probation, retroactive to an initial report in November 2011, and to accept self-imposed sanctions already served that limited some recruiting by coaches and increased their compliance training.

Ridpath said the basketball program’s employment of Moore, a former Cyclones player from 1977 to 1981, raised “a red flag” that would invite questions. He said any sanctions for Hoiberg may hinge on how much supervisory control he exercised over Moore.

“Certainly someone is going to ask, the fact that Moore had this relationship with AAU, what did you know about it and was there a heightened awareness?” Ridpath said. “Iowa State could find itself vulnerable there.”

Moore declined comment. The university said the athletics department assigned Moore as a student coach for the team in 2010 after Moore enrolled in a continuing education program that helps former athletes finish their degrees.

The report said Hoiberg bumped into Moore in April 2011 at an AAU basketball game. Hoiberg could attend since his son was playing, but Moore could not. Moore admitted that he’d remained in contact with former members of his AAU team, All Iowa Attack, including two who were being recruited by Iowa State, the report said.

Hoiberg reported the violation to athletic director Jamie Pollard, and Moore was relieved of his duties the next day. The university stopped recruiting the players Moore contacted and has since discontinued the practice of assigning former athletes in the continuing education program to work with specific teams.

Moore told university investigators that he had a close relationship with some former players, and did not consider his contacts to be recruiting. Moore said he was also unclear on whether he could text them under NCAA rules, but the university’s report said it was “made very clear to Moore upon his hiring” that he could not.

Moore didn’t respond to inquiries from NCAA investigators, which makes it likely that he will be hit with a finding of “unethical conduct,” Infante said. That may lead to a show-cause order making it unlikely Moore would be able to coach at the collegiate level anytime soon, he said.