Oregon placed on two-year probation
June 23, 2004
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) An Oregon assistant football coach violated NCAA recruiting rules when he tried to lure a junior college transfer to the school in January 2003, resulting in a two-year probation for the school.
The Pacific-10 school remains eligible for postseason play and does not lose any scholarships, NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes said Wednesday.
The case centers on a "series of impermissible" contacts by the assistant and a national letter of intent that had a forged signature, the NCAA said. The athlete involved was not identified and does not attend Oregon.
The assistant, Gary Campbell, was suspended without pay for one week during the last school year, and he was not allowed to recruit until January. The university also restricted the number of coaches allowed off campus to recruit last season.
"We're trying to win the right way and we're not going to cheat," Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti said. "I feel very bad about this because it happened under my watch."
The case was resolved without a formal hearing. The NCAA's governing body agreed with the university's proposed penalties and did not impose additional sanctions.
"The violation was self-discovered here in the program, it was self-reported. We cooperated fully with both the Pac-10 and NCAA," said Bill Moos, Oregon's athletic director. "We're very proud of the fact we have not had a major NCAA violation in, I believe, 20 years. So we take this very seriously."
In details disclosed by the NCAA, the university and the assistant coach, Campbell visited the prospect in his hometown on Jan. 15, 2003. The recruit was undecided about going to Oregon or Cal-Berkeley.
After a visit with the recruit at his home that night, the assistant went back to his hotel and called the player back twice to ask if he had signed a letter of intent, the NCAA said.
During the second call, the player said he decided on Cal, but the assistant tried to persuade the prospect to attend Oregon, "assuring him that if he changed his mind later, the assistant coach would destroy the (national letter of intent)," the NCAA said.
Campbell also reminded the player to write that the letter was signed before midnight, the deadline for junior college transfers, according to the NCAA.
The assistant agreed to meet the player, who was by then at a hotel to catch an early flight back to his junior college. Meeting a second time violated NCAA rules limiting contact between prospects and recruiters to once a week
When the assistant arrived at the hotel, the player signed the letter of intent, forged his father's signature and added falsely that the letter was signed at 9:36 p.m., Jan. 15, the NCAA said, even though it was actually after the midnight deadline. The coach faxed the letter back to Oregon at 3:26 a.m. Jan. 16, 2003.
It was also a violation for the assistant to be present when the player signed his letter of intent.
"Obviously, this was a serious error in judgment, one that assistant coach Gary Campbell is very forthright about," Bellotti said. "I think he went to visit this young man thinking he was going to get a signed, valid letter, and when he did not, I won't say he panicked, but he made a serious error in judgment."
The Associated Press News Service
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