The NCAA has opted to not punish the University of Florida for a recruiting violation committed by a former assistant coach. Former wide receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned from his position after it came to light that he was meeting with a recruit during the dead period.
The NCAA has decided not to penalize the Florida Gators after a former football assistant coach visited a recruit off campus before rules allowed for contact and, according to its findings, “exceeded the boundaries of permissible recruiting.”
Though the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions panel did not identify Joker Phillips as the assistant coach in its report, the details of the incident point directly to an incident involving him and a recruit that led to his suspension prior to last season and ended the recruitment of the prospect in question.
Phillips resigned in June after having impermissible contact in January 2014 — during the dead period — with a high school recruit during his junior year. Phillips was hired by the Cleveland Browns last month to coach wide receivers.
Because of Florida’s self-imposed sanctions, the NCAA decided to levy no additional punishment.
“The University of Florida Athletic Association takes pride in the culture of compliance it has built over the years,” Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. “Integrity is one of the core values of our organization — we act in a fair, ethical and honest manner and we strive to do things the right way every day.
“That is why we took quick and decisive action after we learned of a recruiting contact rule violation involving one of our assistant football coaches in January 2014. We stopped recruiting the involved student-athlete, we removed the assistant coach from all recruiting activities, and later secured his resignation.”
Florida, Phillips and the NCAA agreed on the facts and that the violation occurred.
Before Phillips talked with the prospect, he was notified by a recruiting service reporter that the prospect would be waiting outside of his high school when they arrived. Once Phillips was at the high school, he spoke with the prospect, let him know the school wanted the prospect to be a part of its football program and got the prospect’s social media contact information.
The panel determined the former coach’s contact with the prospect was a Level II violation because it was not inadvertent and provided more than a minimal recruiting advantage. Specifically, the former coach was able to get the prospect’s contact information at a time when coaches who were following the rules were unable to have the same level of contact.
It was very odd when Joker Phillips suddenly resigned for undisclosed reasons, but it started to come together why he did. Making contact with recruits off campus during the dead period is a big no no for coaches, but Florida is getting off easy since they self imposed sanctions.
It doesn’t surprise me that things like this is happening and it wouldn’t surprise me that plenty of other coaches are doing the same thing, but aren’t getting caught. Even in this case, a school was caught with their hand in the cookie jar and the NCAA did nothing.