LSU football self-imposes 1-year bowl ban

LSU will forgo participating in a bowl game this season, adding to the list of self-imposed sanctions stemming from the NCAA’s investigation into improper booster payments to its football players.

The school announced the self-imposed bowl ban on Wednesday night.

LSU, which is 3-5 with two games remaining on its schedule, could have finished the regular season under .500 and still been eligible to participate in a bowl game because the NCAA waived bowl eligibility requirements this season in order to provide greater flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ESPN reported last month that LSU had self-imposed a loss of eight scholarships over two years; a reduction in recruiting visits, evaluations and communication; and a ban of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from its football facilities for two years.

LSU’s football program is charged with a Level III violation involving Beckham, a former Tigers star, who gave $2,000 in cash to four Tigers football players on the field after the team’s 42-25 victory over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 13.

In a statement released on Wednesday night, the school said the additional action taken represents its “commitment to compliance with NCAA regulations and maintenance of institutional control.”

“I respect the university’s decision to proactively address NCAA issues from the past,” coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement. “I share the disappointment of our student-athletes who will not be able to compete this season in a bowl game. I am especially proud of our players’ dedication to the program during these unprecedented times in our country. Their pride in LSU will be the driving force as we continue to build a championship program. Geaux Tigers.”

The NCAA’s investigation into the football program is part of a larger inquiry that has gone on for three years.

In a document released to ESPN by the university in August, NCAA vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan wrote that LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade either arranged for or offered “impermissible payments” to at least 11 potential recruits or others around them.

Duncan wrote that the NCAA enforcement staff received information that Wade “arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men’s basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or nonscholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects’ enrollment at LSU.”

The allegations were included in the NCAA enforcement staff’s request that its infractions case involving the LSU men’s basketball and football programs be adjudicated through the independent accountability resolution process, which was created to handle complex cases. LSU was hoping to adjudicate the football case through the traditional NCAA infractions process.

The most serious allegation related to LSU’s football program involves booster John Paul Funes, a former CEO of a hospital foundation whom the enforcement staff accused of “providing funds to the families of current and former student-athletes, arranging for members of the institution’s football staff to use a private plane and offering internships to football student-athletes.”

The NCAA enforcement staff confirmed that Funes “arranged employment beginning in 2012 for the parents of a then football student-athlete and paid the father $180,000 during 2012-17 for a no-show job.”

The father, who was identified as “Individual C” in a federal indictment, is the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander, sources previously told ESPN.

Alexander was a four-year starter for the Tigers from 2012 to 2015. His father, James Alexander, is a self-employed entrepreneur in Atlanta.

In October, Funes pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $500,000 from the hospital foundation and giving some of the money to the parents of two former LSU players. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison.

LSU was notified of the allegations by the hospital in November 2018, and former university president F. King Alexander and former athletic director Joe Alleva informed the NCAA of the matter the same day, according to the school’s attorneys.

Information from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Adam Rittenberg was used in this report.

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