NC State received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA on Tuesday this week, which the school made public on Wednesday. The major violations all relate to the recruitment of former five-star point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who spent one fart of a season in Raleigh before heading to the NBA.
Let’s break this down, FAQ-style.
What is a Notice of Allegations?
An extremely judgmental document pieced together by various mediocre bean-counters at the NCAA alerting you to certain violations of the labyrinthine tax code otherwise known as the NCAA rule book. It lets you know you did some Bad Stuff, though nothing that would qualify as Bad Stuff in the real world.
How severe are the allegations we’re talking about in NC State’s case?
The NCAA’s NOA asserts that NC State committed two Level I violations and two Level II violations. Under the NCAA’s current four-tiered structure of violations, Level I is the most severe, Level II is the next most severe, and so on. So, the allegations are severe!
Level I: Severe breach of conduct
Violations that seriously undermine or threaten the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws, including any violation that provides or is intended to provide a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage, or a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit.
Level II: Significant breach of conduct
Violations that provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage; includes more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive impermissible benefit; or involves conduct that may compromise the integrity of the NCAA collegiate model as set forth in the Constitution and bylaws.
The NCAA also provides some examples for each category at the above link.
Ok, more specifically, who are the individuals named by the NCAA in the Level I violations, and what are said violations?
1.) Former NC State assistant coach Orlando Early. Early is charged with multiple recruiting violations between Sept. 2014 and March 2017, and those are primarily centered on Smith Jr.’s recruitment. The NCAA alleges that Early funneled $46,700 in impermissible benefits to Smith and individuals associated with him. That includes a $40,000 payment to ensure DSJ’s commitment to NC State. Early also provided thousands of dollars worth of free tickets to the friends and family of Smith, as well as Shawn Farmer, who was DSJ’s trainer/handler.
2.) Former NC State head coach Mark Gottfried. The Gott man is levied with a failure to monitor Early’s activities under his watch, as the head coach is responsible for making sure his assistants are in compliance with NCAA regulations. Gottfried also failed to check all of the free tickets that were being distributed during the time period in question—164 of them in total.
What are the potential penalties for these Level I infractions?
Both men could be served show-cause penalties by the NCAA, which would ban them from being involved with college sports for a period of time, likely at least several years. Early is currently out of the college game, anyway: he’s a scout for the Memphis Grizzlies. Gottfried is the head coach at Cal-State Northridge and under a show-cause would immediately forfeit that job.
Will the penalties eventually incurred by Gottfried and Early affect NC State?
Only in the sense of how they inform the larger infractions picture. Obviously, neither one has been employed by NC State for years. They are irrelevant third parties from that perspective.
And how about the two Level II charges?
This is where we get to the institution-level charges leveled against NC State. Note first off that Level II charges, by the NCAA’s own accounting, will not lead to the dreaded “lack of institutional control” ruling. NC State is clear of that.
1.) The NCAA alleges that nine times between January and March of 2016, Wolfpack staff members provided 14 complimentary tickets, which the NCAA estimates as $862 bucks worth of impermissible recruiting benefits. Eight of those went to AAU coach Stanley Bland, who also happened to coach Cat Barber at the prep level. Another AAU coach, Keith Stevens, received three tickets to two different games at the 2016 ACC Tournament. That is the extent of the first Level II charge.
Let me interrupt you there. That’s it?
That is all there is, sir.
That seems like, I dunno, not as bad as a Level II charge? What’s a Level III charge, waving at a recruit from a third-story window?
Hey, I make the jokes here! Anyway, moving on:
2.) The NCAA argues that the nature of certain violations under Mark Gottfried’s watch in 2015-16 and 2016-17 demonstrate a failure on NC State’s part to properly monitor the rules compliance of its basketball program. The NCAA doesn’t mention the DSJ recruitment here—it is clear that Early and Gottfried are going to wear that one.
The NCAA alleges only that NC State didn’t properly monitor “its men’s basketball program’s provision of complimentary admissions on the men’s basketball office pass list by its failure to establish an adequate system for ensuring compliance with NCAA legislation.”
Seems like an important distinction the NCAA is making between individual actions and institutional responsibility in the case.
So we’re fine then?
Well, no, alas. For certain NC State’s wins during Dennis Smith’s lone season in Raleigh will be vacated. Smith participated as an ineligible player, so those are gone. I know, I know, it’s going to break your heart. So that’s the first bit and nobody cares.
But the Level II violations are likely to come with some recruiting limitations—that could mean probation, scholarship reductions, limiting on-campus visits for a period of time, and/or limiting the number of days coaches can spend on the road recruiting.
And I would never rule out a post-season ban of some kind.
It’s really, really early in this process, mind you, and this is going to take a long time to sort itself out. NC State has 90 days to respond to the Notice of Allegations before the next phase can move forward.
A lot of variables, as always, are tied to how the NCAA is feeling in any given case. Do they want to make an example out of NC State? And what tact with NCSU take in the months ahead? State already has retained the law firm that worked for UNC on its NCAA case. State may also self-impose some sanctions to lessen NCAA-imposed penalties.
We may not begin to get any clarity on the case until the spring, so buckle up for the long wait ahead.