Mississippi State’s cooperation with the NCAA and the fact that coach Dan Mullen wasn’t implicated in any way helped the Bulldogs escape serious sanctions.
It’s always a downer to be placed on NCAA probation, but the sting is less severe when the penalties don’t include a postseason ban.
More than anybody else, the Bulldogs’ players had to be relieved Friday when the NCAA announced Mississippi State’s penalties. Of the eight penalties, Mississippi self-imposed six of them.
In finding that a Mississippi State booster “made contact with a top prospect and provided impermissible benefits,” the NCAA placed Mississippi State on two years of probation through June 7, 2015.
The NCAA accepted Mississippi State’s self-imposed penalties, which included the reduction of two total scholarships (from 85 to 83) for the 2012-13 academic year and the reduction of two initial and two total scholarships (from 25 to 23 and from 85 to 83) for the 2013-14 academic year.
Mississippi State had also self-imposed recruiting visit restrictions that the NCAA accepted and disassociated the booster in question from the athletic program.
Former assistant coach Angelo Mirando, who resigned on Aug. 19 just days before the school announced the NCAA's investigation, was cited for unethical conduct and given a one year show-cause penalty, which hinders his ability to secure employment at the college level.
In a lot of ways, Mississippi State's case mirrors that of South Carolina's recent NCAA case involving the improper hotel rooms for players and recruits. The Gamecocks were also placed on probation, but because of the university's cooperation and the fact that Steve Spurrier and his coaches weren't implicated, the penalties were less severe.
What's more, the fact that Mississippi State took swift action and fired Mirando also worked in the Bulldogs' favor.
Obviously, Mississippi State will have to watch itself going forward because it will now fall under the repeat offender window if something else should come up. But for the coaches and players on this team, the reality is that this was in their rear-view mirrors a long time ago.
Still, getting the official word that they won't be barred from playing in a bowl game will make the summer a lot less stressful.