Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - UCF will have to overcome more than top
level competition to succeed, as it transitions from Conference USA to the Big
Both the football and men's basketball teams were given a one-year postseason
ban by the NCAA due to major recruiting infractions. The penalties came about
by the NCAA discovering that a total of 11 prospective student-athletes were
recruited for UCF by Ken Caldwell, who is a recruiter for a professional sports
Caldwell provided impermissible benefits, such as transportation expenses, a
laptop computer, and tuition fees to student athletes and prospective student
UCF was also placed on probation for five years and fined $50,000. Men's
basketball head coach, Donnie Jones, was hit with a three-year "show cause"
penalty. UCF will have to prove Jones will comply with NCAA rules and accept
probation sanctions linked to them. Former athletic director Keith Tribble was
also given a three-year "show cause" penalty while the football team's former
wide receiver coach was handed a one-year "show cause" penalty.
The one-year ban from postseason play will keep UCF out of the Conference USA
Men's Basketball Tournament in 2013. The members of the senior class are
allowed to transfer to any other program with an available scholarship without
having to sit out a season.
The Knights were expected to rely heavily on their senior members which
includes Keith Clanton, C.J. Reed, Marcus Jordan, and Josh Crittle. Clanton's
name has already been popular among rival coaches trying to land the 6-foot-9
all-league forward. Jordan, the son of NBA legend Michael Jordan, was second on
the team in scoring last season but might not receive too much interest after
being arrested in July for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and
obstruction of justice.
Jones will have more issues than the possibility of losing his senior core. He
and his coaching staff will have the amount of days and off-campus visiting
eligibility limited for the next two academic years. UCF had to vacate all
men's basketball wins from 2008-2011.
The timing of the NCAA's sanctions come as the athletic program begins its
final year of competition in Conference USA before joining the much more
competitive Big East. UCF will have to compete against an elite level of
competition as it attempts to overcome all of the recruiting restrictions for
the next two seasons. Jones could be in trouble as he attempts to overcome his
unfavorable odds. If his team's performance suffers and he is relieved of his
duties, the job market for coaches who have been hit with a show-cause is
The situation for the football team is slightly different. Head coach George
O'Leary will have his recruiting abilities reduced, but he will not lose any
highly valuable scholarships. The senior class of players on the team would be
eligible to transfer to any school with an available scholarship, however UCF
is planning on appealing the postseason ban for football only.
By appealing, UCF will be eligible for bowl games this upcoming season as the
appeal process runs its course. If the school loses its appeal, O'Leary's team
will be banned from bowl games in 2013, which will be its first year in a BCS
conference. None of the players illegally recruited ended up enrolling at UCF
and the former wide receivers coach linked to the third party was fired. UCF is
unlikely to win its appeal or have any penalties reduced however, as the
football program was already on probation for malfeasance.
There are no rules disallowing UCF from withdrawing its appeal if the Knights
have a discouraging start to the season. However, the NCAA has the capability
of disciplining the school if it attempts to manipulate the rules.
The images of both penalized teams will be tarnished for the unforeseeable
future. Both Jones and O'Leary can offer prospective student-athletes the
opportunity to play in the Big East, but NCAA sanctions have been detrimental
to much stronger programs in recent history. For example, Indiana's rich
basketball tradition was only recently restored after three miserable seasons
following the NCAA's decision to make then head coach Kelvin Sampson a show-
The football team recently began its preseason practices.The Knights of the
gridiron are returning 16 starters from last year's team that finished 5-7
and are considered contenders to win the conference championship. O'Leary's
squad might be able to leave Conference USA on top, but the UCF athletic
program will to crawl uphill as it faces the appeal process, recruiting
restrictions, and the Big East in the coming years.
The Sports Network