Probe finds no major offenses

An internal investigation into the University’s football recruiting practices uncovered one minor NCAA violation but found no major infractions.

Player hosts who took recruits to a strip club and a Dinkytown bar during official visits “showed some poor judgment,” but did not violate any rules, according to the Athletic Compliance Office report released Friday.

Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he was “extremely pleased” with the report’s findings.

The investigation revealed one secondary violation. In September, the football equipment staff sold a shoulder harness to a recruit, breaking an NCAA bylaw that prohibits the arrangement of benefits for recruits, the report stated.

The violation was unintentional and “won’t have great consequences,” Deputy General Counsel William Donohue said.

Maturi said a thorough investigation of any program in the country would probably reveal at least one minor violation.

The investigation included interviews with 35 student athletes, eight recruits, coaches and members of Gopher Gold, a group of female students who assist recruits on official visits.

The University does not have subpoena power and some recruits refused interview requests with investigators.

The investigation began in late January after recruits told local media outlets they visited Deja Vu and the Library Bar & Grill while on official visits to the University. Some recruits reported drinking at the Library Bar & Grill.

But the investigation found no evidence of underage drinking, Donohue said. The University’s Student Conduct Code prohibits underage drinking on campus.

“I think if you want to be naive about that, people tend not to reveal bad things about themselves,” Donohue said. “But my take on this is that if we had an extensive problem with that, we would have discovered it, and we didn’t find it.”

Deja Vu and the Library Bar & Grill require patrons to be 18 years old. The investigation found that 10 recruits younger than 18 entered the Library Bar & Grill on recruiting visits. Three underage players went to Deja Vu.

Donohue said it was unlikely any underage players were served alcohol at the Library Bar & Grill. If some recruits did drink, it is not a widespread problem, he said. Deja Vu does not serve alcohol.

Underage entrance to the establishments does not violate NCAA rules, the report stated, because players did not receive special treatment solely because they were recruits.

Visits to the strip club also do not violate an NCAA bylaw prohibiting “excessive entertainment.” The rule applies to things such as lavish meals and flying students to campus on private jets, Donohue said.

Though no rules were broken, Donohue said player hosts made bad decisions.

“That is not an appropriate thing to do, and they probably should have known better,” he said. “The real question you ask yourself is, ‘What were they thinking?’ “

When football coach Glen Mason learned that recruits were taken to strip clubs, he told all players that such conduct was “completely inappropriate,” according to the report.

Donohue said no recruits went to Deja Vu on subsequent visits. That demonstrates the coaching staff’s ability to control the situation, he said.

In the report, the Athletic Compliance Office recommended several changes, including a recruiting-visit code of conduct.

Maturi has started a taskforce to review the University’s recruiting standards, and he said he expects changes to be made.

“It’s obviously disturbing that some of our young people made a very poor decision in bringing prospective student-athletes to a strip club as well as a bar,” Maturi said. “Those are things we take very seriously, and we’re taking steps to minimize them in the future.”