COI: Mississippi State booster made impermissible contact, provided benefits
The Division I Committee on Infractions on Friday annouced a decision that Robert Denton Herring, a Mississippi State booster, made recruiting contact with a top football prospect -- Will Redmond -- and provided impermissible benefits. Additionally, Angelo Mirando, a former assistant football coach, was cited 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.
Penalties in the case include two years of probation, reductions in football scholarships, official paid visits, the number of in-person recruiting days and a one-year show-cause order for a former assistant coach. If Mirando seeks employment at an NCAA member school during that one-year period, he and the school must appear before the Committee on Infractions to determine if the school should be subject to the show-cause procedures.
"We worked in close and full cooperation with the NCAA in every phase of this process," Mississippi State President Mark Keenum said in a statement. "I am pleased that the Committee on Infractions recognized our good faith efforts to meet this issue head-on by taking swift action to administer self-imposed penalties and additional corrective actions to address the situation."
|• Public reprimand and censure.|
|• Two years of probation from June 7, 2013 through June 6, 2015.|
|• A one-year show-cause order for Mirando, the former assistant coach, which prevents him from recruiting activities and booster interaction. The public report contains further details.|
|• 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 Herring, the booster, by the university’s athletics program. Details of the disassociation can be found in the public report (Self-imposed by the university).|
Herring befriended Redmond and began arranging for him to use cars, gave him cash and provided other benefits. During the recruitment, Herring exchanged more than 100 phone calls with Redmond, assisted him in securing a car to drive to a campus visit and provided cash to the recruit on multiple occasions. Additionally, Herring and a friend provided a car to Redmond for approximately $2,000 below the actual value of the car. Prior to taking an official visit to a different university, Herring told Redmond that if he did not take the visit, the recruit would be paid $6,000.
The university released a statement saying the athlete involved -- without specifically mentioning Redmond -- must repay $2,660 in impermissible benefits, was suspended for the entire 2012 season and will miss the first five games of the upcoming season.
Mirando, who developed a friendship with Herring, became aware of the improper recruiting activity but did not report it to university officials. Mirando had frequent contact with Herring and began to suspect that the booster was in contact with Redmond. Eventually Herring revealed he had conversations with Redmond and, in subsequent conversations, assured Mirando that Redmond would commit to Mississippi State. The recruit’s non-scholastic coach, Byron De'Vinner, told Mirando that Redmond received a jacket and a gift card from Herring and expressed concerns over the recruit’s car. Despite confirmation from Herring and De'Vinner's concern, Mirando did not report the information to the coaching staff or administration.
In two initial interviews with the university and the NCAA, Mirando denied any knowledge of Herring’s activity. After Mirando resigned his position, he admitted he was aware. As a result, the committee cited Mirando for unethical conduct. Since he is no longer employed by a NCAA member school, Mirando was not required to appear at the infractions hearing but did attend to take responsibility for his actions. The committee notes his attendance helped give members a full assessment of the violations and the circumstances surrounding them.
Committee on Infractions chairman Britton Banowsky said during a Friday morning conference call that the violation was serious, but "narrow in scope and very straightforward." He praised the university for its cooperation and said Mirando provided information after initial denials, even though he was not required to talk with the committee.
Banowsky said there was no evidence that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen was aware of the recruiting violations until they were brought to the school's attention. He said it was a "classic case" where a booster complicated the recruiting process.
Mississippi State Athletic Director Scott Stricklin said earlier this week that the department took the NCAA's investigation seriously. "We're always going to be aggressive at correcting [problems] and making sure we"re doing things the right way," he said.
"If there's something we think is there, we're going to pull the rug all the way back, find the issue and address it."
Mississippi State finished with an 8-5 record last season, winning its first seven games of the season before losing five of six, including a 34-20 loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.