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The NCAA is investigating whether the Arizona State football program hosted high school prospects during the COVID-19 dead period, along with other possible recruiting violations, The Athletic‘s Doug Haller reports.
“ASU can confirm the NCAA is conducting an investigation regarding allegations related to our football program,” Arizona State vice president of media relations and strategic communications Katie Paquet said in a statement to The Athletic. “In accordance with NCAA bylaws, the university cannot provide further comment at this time.”
The Athletic reports the number of prospects Arizona State is alleged to have entertained during the COVID-19 period is not known, and it is not yet known when they might have visited.
Although play resumed on the field, coaching staffs were forced to communicate with recruits through video calls and other electronic means and prospects often committed to schools they had not yet seen.
“The allegations are a bad look for a program that had its season shut down for nearly a month last year because of COVID-19 issues. Half the coaching staff, including head coach Herm Edwards, tested positive,” The Athletic reports. “The Sun Devils played only four games, finishing 2-2. On Zoom sessions with reporters, Edwards urged fans to take the virus seriously. With coaches and players exhausted at season’s end, the program removed itself from bowl consideration.”
Edwards’ involvement in the investigation is not clear. He coaches in practice and has been the face of the program for most of the past three-plus years.
He leans heavily on Antonio Pierce, the program’s associate head coach, recruiting coordinator and defensive coordinator. If it were up to him, Edwards has said more than once, Pierce would replace him when he retires, the article states.
The NCAA’s dead period was extended through May 31 and continued the existing ban on in-person recruiting activities that began when the pandemic hit last spring. In February, the NCAA said its Division I Council members would provide clarity on the transition back to recruiting calendars — this allowed for in-person recruiting to begin June 1.
This month, Arizona State football hosted both in-state and out-of-state prospects on official and unofficial visits this month and The Athletic reports that the Sun Devils have four high school prospects committed to their 2022 class but are in contention for top prospects across the country.