On Sunday, it was announced that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is under an NCAA investigation for four major NCAA violations allegedly committed under former assistant coach David Saunders.
The uncovering of the allegations comes after The Daily Advertiser, a Lafayette newspaper, filed a public records request. The university chose to go public with the allegations to fulfill the request.
The findings from the NCAA are that Saunders on three separate occasions in 2011, 2012 and 2013, steered football recruits to taking an ACT (American College Testing) exam at Wayne County High School in Waynesboro, Mississippi. Furthermore, Saunders arranged for the ACT supervisor to review and alter results from those student athletes.
Saunders is also accused of giving improper benefits to a student-athlete in 2012. The NCAA document says Saunders gave $5,000 and $1,500 for tuition and housing needs to a student-athlete who was at a two-year institution at the time, likely as a gray-shirt recruit due to not being academically eligible at ULL.
In the document are over 200 factual finding by the NCAA regarding the violations, most relating to the ACT improprieties.
Those findings led to the first two violations. The other two come from Saunders allegedly providing false and misleading information to the investigative committee. All four are considered Level I violations by the NCAA, the most serious the association can issue.
The University responded to the Notice of Allegations in August according to The Advertiser. ULL has accepted the ACT-related allegations but has denied the accusations of cash payments.
With the investigation, the University chose to self-sanction itself in hope that the mitigation factors will lessen the NCAA's punishment. Those self-taken actions in the report are below.
- Firing Saunders on November 2, 2014 after previously banning him from off-campus recruiting the previous summer.
- Prohibited the football staff from recruiting one of the student-athletes named in the investigation (likely the one who received the benefits).
- Reducing the number of evaluation days from 42 to 30 in 2014.
- Reducing the number of official visits by six in 2014.
- Withholding other student-athletes named in the report.
The university instituted the following self-imposed penalties for Saunders' improprieties while he was an assistant pic.twitter.com/RpPJx7sy2r— Luke Johnson (@LukeJohnsonAdv) October 12, 2015
As confirmed in a follow-up Tweet, this would mean the entire 2011 Ragin' Cajuns football season would be vacated, including their New Orleans Bowl victory over San Diego State, a game ULL won with a last-second field goal 32-30. It was the Cajun's first bowl game since 1970.
The Cajuns have appeared in and won the New Orleans Bowl every year since. Their run since 2011 is the most successful run in school history.
It was noted that the University and all interviews with the exception of Saunders complied with the investigation and that it's not believed anyone other football coach or administrator knew about these rogue activities. Still, the NCAA puts a heavy emphasis on head coaches knowing what they're assistants are doing.
Saunders currently works for Pearl River Community College as an assistant coach.