South Carolina gets 1-year probation for assistant's impermissible contact with recruit

The NCAA placed South Carolina's football program on probation for one year after reaching a negotiated resolution agreement to close an investigation into impermissible off-campus contact between a Gamecocks assistant coach and a recruit in 2018.

According to an NCAA release, the unnamed assistant coach had impermissible off-campus contact with a recruit in May 2018. The coach also sent 13 text messages to the prospective student-athlete, who was a sophomore in high school at the time, from January 2018 to June 2018.

Sources told ESPN that the recruit is defensive lineman Demonte Capehart of IMG Academy, the No. 27 prospect in the 2020 ESPN 300, who committed to Clemson in June 2018.

The sources said the unnamed assistant coach is former USC defensive line coach Lance Thompson, who now works as Florida Atlantic's recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach. Thompson left the Gamecocks in January after three seasons.

Under the negotiated agreement, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp can have off-campus contact with 10 recruits during a two-week contact period in December, and the Gamecocks had to stop recruiting Capehart.

The NCAA also fined the Gamecocks $10,000.

"As the head coach of the football program at the University of South Carolina, I am responsible for all facets of the program. I recognize that a violation occurred within my program and I have taken substantial corrective actions to ensure that similar instances do not continue to occur," Muschamp said in a statement.

South Carolina officials took several other corrective actions, including banning the entire coaching staff from any off-campus recruiting activity for the first two weeks of the 2019 spring evaluation period and the first four weeks of the 2019 fall evaluation period; a reduction of 12 evaluation days for the 2018-19 academic year; and a restriction in telephone and text communication with recruits for a two-week period that started Sept. 1.

"Once our compliance staff learned of the violations in question, we conducted a thorough internal review and worked closely with the NCAA in the handling of this matter," athletic director Ray Tanner said. "We are diligent in our compliance efforts, both proactively and reactively. When issues arise that counter our compliance culture, we are quick to respond with corrective measures."