helmetWith the release of Thursday’s NCAA report that UCF’s football program committed “major” violations involving impermissible phone calls and improper text messages sent to recruits, the positives for UCF is that the case has been finalized and the penalties are substantial, but not overly harsh.

UCF most certainly gained some favor with the NCAA by self-discovering and self-reporting violations committed by two former football administrative staffers in 2007. UCF then worked closely with the NCAA through the summary disposition process and submitted the findings to the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions.

The findings of the NCAA report were 209 impermissible telephone calls and approximately 100 text messages to 27 prospective student-athletes and/or their parents during a period of almost 18 months in 2007.

In addition to serving two years of probation, UCF has already completed recruiting restrictions during the past months leading up to National Signing Day. UCF was able to work through the restrictions and ultimately signed a 23-player recruiting class that is being hailed as the most dynamic in school history.

UCF Executive Associate Athletics Director David Chambers said Thursday’s report brought a conclusion to the investigation, something that will allow the institution to move forward with its compliance of the NCAA’s rules in the future.

Chambers took time out on Thursday for a question-and-answer segment with UCFathletics.com to explain the violations and subsequent sanctions handed by the NCAA. Here is the interview:

Q: The NCAA deemed these to be “major” violations. Is that the way UCF viewed this incident and how disappointing is it for the athletics department?

CHAMBERS: There have been five other cases involving impermissible text messaging, mail or telephone calls. And while you never want to end up in a situation that’s considered “major”, we understood that there was precedent within the Association for the committee to come to that determination based upon the number of texts and calls.

Q: Do you think the fact that UCF self-discovered and self-reported these violations to the NCAA helped to resolve the matter?

CHAMBERS: Yes, without question. Anytime that you demonstrate that you have compliance oversight and procedures that demonstrate that you monitor adherence to the rules, that’s viewed as a positive situation. And that certainly was the case in this instance, specifically because both violations were self-discovered and self-reported by the institution.

Q: These illegal actions were committed by a non-coaching former staff member, correct?

CHAMBERS: The individuals involved acted in an administrative capacity within the football program and did not have any coaching duties and their responsibilities were administrative support.

Q: With the two years of probation and the already completed restrictions upon recruiting, do you feel like UCF’s full cooperation in the investigation helped lessen penalties that obviously could have been much harsher?

CHAMBERS: Generally when you have a major infractions case and a public report issued, typically it’s just the beginning for an institution. From that point forward, they are dealing with postseason bans, sanctions, penalties, loss of scholarships and sometimes repayment of monies. But in our case, it is closure to a situation that began in 2007.

I say closure because from the time that we first discovered the violation to submitting the summary deposition report to the NCAA, we’ve been working with the NCAA in terms of addressing the violations and imposing self-imposed violations that were consistent with the level of the violations. The encouraging thing is that at this point, the penalties have been imposed and served with the exception of today’s announcement of a public censure and identifying that we will be on a two-year probationary period.

In terms of us having to deal with future sanctions or accompanying negative ramifications tied to the sanctions, the answer is no. The positive for us today is that this marks closure to this situation instead of a beginning.

Q: What can you say to UCF fans about this university’s commitment to do things the right way and by the rules so that it won’t happen again?

CHAMBERS: A lot of people pay lip service to it and try and say the right things, but honestly I can say that I know this administration and institution value integrity immensely and value the credibility of its Athletics Department. This is something that you never want to have happen and unfortunately it did happen with two administrators who admittedly knew the rules and acted contrary to the rules. We’re responsible and we’ve faced the penalties with the football program and the coaching staff. For a period of time we were competing against other schools (in recruiting) with some significant restrictions in place.

It’s our goal, each and every day, to act in compliance with the NCAA. We know that sometimes there will be inadvertent violations, but it’s important that we have a culture of compliance here and I really believe that we do. The self-discovery of the violations demonstrates this. Without question, I know that we have a department that is committed to rules compliance and we have leadership that demands, and will ensure the commitment to those rules.

John Denton’s KnightsInsider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John atjdenton@athletics.ucf.edu