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NCAA investigating Arizona State for possible recruiting violations

The program allegedly hosted recruits during the 15-month COVID dead period, among other possible violations

The NCAA is investigating Arizona State for allegedly hosting recruits during the COVID-19 dead period.

The Athletic first reported the story on Wednesday morning. Arizona State has confirmed the investigation to the site and to ESPN

“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.”

It's not known how many recruits allegedly visited the school during the dead period, nor when they visited. 

The NCAA shut down in-person recruiting in March of 2020 and kept the dead period in place until June 1, the longest such period in the history of recruiting. 

While dead period visits are the top-line issue at hand, they are not the only thing the NCAA is investigating. ESPN's Kyle Bonagura tweeted that Arizona State has committed violations "in just the last week."

Beyond the obvious concern of the NCAA sniffing around the program, the far-reaching concern for Arizona State has to be if Herm Edwards and Antonio Pierce will be personally implicated in any potential violations.

Pierce, a Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler in his 9-year NFL career, is ASU's associate head coach, defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. Edwards has stated on multiple occasions his preference for Pierce to take over for him has the Sun Devils head coach upon his retirement. (Edwards is 67.) 

If Pierce is found to have orchestrated these visits or implicated in any other violations, that would complicate the plan of succession in Tempe, to stay the least.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.

Update: Pete Thamel published a story Wednesday afternoon detailing a dossier documenting dozens of illegal visits over multiple months, illicit workouts, and numerous disgruntled employees within the ASU football offices.

Yahoo Sports interviewed more than a dozen current or former ASU staff members this week. Multiple sources indicated that at least 30 players visited campus over a span of months, a practice so common coaches referenced “official visit weekends” in staff meetings, coaches bumped into recruits and families in a back stairwell and a routine developed of facility tours being given around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. at night.

On one weekend in October, there were so many high school kids visiting that a staff member parked a 12-person van in the staff parking lot to tour around recruits. The visits spanned months, sources said, including some in October, the weekend of the UCLA game in December and through the spring game, which one source said “was like an official visit weekend.”

“It wasn’t a secret,” said a staff member with direct knowledge of the visits. “As far as knowing everyone who came into that [football] office, the number is too big and the names are too many. They would bring in parents, their moms and dads and friends. They’d get a facility tour like they were on an official visit. They’d show you the weight room and training room. They’d show you everything.”

Wednesday evening update> Multiple Pac 12 coaches tell FootballScoop the evidence is significant in this case. "Don't expect this to end well for Arizona State" one coach told FootballScoop. 

Thursday update> Arizona State has acknowledged the investigation publicly; but thus far University leadership is remaining behind closed doors. Sources tell FootballScoop the University's leadership is considering taking significant action soon. Stay tuned...