Utah on NCAA probation for recruiting issues

The NCAA placed Utah's men's basketball program on two years' probation on Tuesday for impermissible recruiting activities during a seven-day period in April 2018.

The NCAA Division I committee on infractions also ruled that Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak failed to meet his responsibility to monitor his staff and promote rules compliance.

Utah officials self-reported the violations to the NCAA and settled the case through a cooperative summary disposition process. The NCAA committee initially proposed suspending Krystkowiak for two games, but later "determined the violations were unintentional, limited and not indicative of systemic problems. For those reasons, the committee did not prescribe the suspension it initially proposed."

Utah officials self-imposed a $5,000 fine and recruiting restrictions. The NCAA also gave Utah associate head coach Tommy Connor a one-year show cause order. He served a one-week suspension in November 2018 and was prohibited from off-campus recruiting last month.

"The University of Utah is committed to integrity in all of its endeavors," Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. "While we take any violation of NCAA rules seriously, we are confident these actions were isolated and inadvertent and have been fully addressed by the University and the NCAA. Through this process, we took the opportunity to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of our compliance education and monitoring practices and put additional checks and balances in place as a result."

According to the NCAA, a Utah assistant coach "misapplied recruiting rules and believed off-campus recruiting activities were allowed during a quiet period." The NCAA said the coach conducted an evaluation of a recruit at a community college, and the Utes' entire coaching staff visited a second recruit at his high school during the quiet period.

The committee found that Connor coordinated with a local community college basketball coach to arrange for a high school prospect to visit Utah's campus. The community college paid for the prospect's visit, and the recruit also visited Utah's campus while he was in Salt Lake City.

The NCAA ruled the community college coach became a Utah booster because he was "the [assistant] coach's contact with the prospect and the money spent to bring the prospect to the state and to the university violated NCAA recruiting rules." Since the community college paid for the prospect's visit to the Utah campus, the NCAA ruled the Utes exceeded the number of permissible official visits.

The NCAA ruled that Krystkowiak, who is in his ninth season at Utah, failed to monitor his staff and promote rules compliance because he "did not confirm with compliance officials that the off-campus evaluation and contacts were permissible."

Krystkowiak immediately reported the off-campus rules violations to Utah's compliance department, the NCAA statement said, but "did not confirm that all circumstances of the visit complied with NCAA rules." As a result, the committee on infractions ruled, the Utes allowed a booster to finance an official visit and have contact with a prospect.

The NCAA report said Utah officials also rescinded the university's "'coach in waiting' agreement with the associate head coach." Connor, a former Utah point guard, worked as an assistant under former Utes coach Rick Majerus from 1994 to 1997 and returned to his alma mater under Krystkowiak in 2011. Utah's agreement with Connor to be Krystkowiak's successor wasn't previously released by the school.

The Utes also committed a Level III violation when their coaching staff watched Krystkowiak's "prospect-aged son participating with members of the men's basketball team in a practice activity."

"When the members of the coaching staff observed him demonstrating his athletics ability, the staff converted the activity into an impermissible tryout," the NCAA report said.

"While they were inadvertent and unintentional mistakes on our part, and there was never an intent to circumvent any rules, we accept that they were violations and, as the head coach, I am accountable for them. I have always been a strong proponent of protecting the integrity of college basketball and that will not change," Krystkowiak said in a statement.