Air Force football placed on two years probation for recruiting violations during COVID-19 dead periods

The NCAA placed Air Force's football program on probation for two years Thursday and issued other penalties for recruiting violations committed during COVID-19 dead periods.

The NCAA said the Air Force Academy and four individuals involved in the alleged violations reached an agreement with enforcement staff about penalties. A fifth unnamed individual is fighting the allegations, and his case will be resolved through an infractions hearing.

The Action Network, citing sources, reported in May that the Falcons were being investigated for hosting high school prospects on campus during dead periods in 2020 and providing them with improper benefits.

Former Falcons defensive line coach Bill Sheridan was one of the coaches involved in the investigation, according to the Action Network. Sheridan, who coached the defensive line at Air Force, resigned as Wisconsin's inside linebackers coach on May 13.

According to the NCAA, Air Force and the four individuals who didn't contest the allegations asked the Division I Committee on Infractions (COI) to publicly release the findings, so they could immediately begin serving the penalties.

The COI won't make a final ruling until the fifth individual's case is resolved.

"The [COI] appreciates the parties' efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties," Gary Miller, chief hearing officer for the infractions panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. "The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case."

The Falcons also will pay an unspecified fine. Recruiting restrictions include a reduction of 46 total official visits over the next two academic years; a ban on unofficial visits from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12; a four-week ban on recruiting communications this academic year; a reduction by 34 in evaluation days; and a reduction in the size of the football roster by 10 for four years.

Unspecified show-causes also were issued for the individuals involved.

On Aug. 31, the NCAA Division I board of directors adopted proposals that they hope will modernize infractions procedures, increase cooperation and transparency during the process and expedite the adjudication of cases.