Sarkisian meets recruits off-campus

Updated: January 29, 2009, 10:04 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Washington is self-reporting to the Pac-10 Conference a second recruiting violation this month by new football coach Steve Sarkisian.

Though the violations are secondary, any such missteps are a sensitive issue for Washington, a former national power program that's been in disarray for most of this decade.

The Huskies were the only winless team in major college football last year and coach Tyrone Willingham was fired during the season.

"I want to make it clear that we do not tolerate NCAA violations," Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said Thursday. "We, as a department, are committed to compliance with the rules."

Woodward has been in his job on a full-time basis since September. He said a violation occurred when Sarkisian, the former Southern California offensive coordinator, and defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who also just arrived from USC, met with two high-school seniors and their coach last week in Los Angeles. A reporter from the Los Angeles Times and a junior teammate of the two players were also present.

The Times reported Wednesday the meeting with Jordan High School senior James Boyd, a star quarterback and defensive end who has committed to Southern California, along with Jordan High coach Elijah Asante, senior Delvon Purvis and junior Deshawn Beck took place at a hair salon and then a coffee shop.

The story focused on how colleges sometimes offer scholarships to relatively lightly regarded players in a push to sign their star teammates.

The Times reporter, Ben Bolch, said he was at the hair salon interviewing a player and his coach when Sarkisian and Holt arrived.

"Bottom line is that they did not know I would be there and did not talk to me other than to make introductions," Bolch said of Sarkisian and Holt, in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Washington acknowledged the NCAA does not permit coaches to have off-campus contact with recruits until July 1 prior to their senior year. It is also forbidden to have contact with recruits in the presence of media.

"Coach Sarkisian and Coach Holt found themselves in an awkward situation that was not of their doing," Woodward said. "They regret that the incident occurred, and I'm confident that they will handle similar circumstances differently in the future."

Last week, the school reported to the Pac-10 that Sarkisian and his staff simulated a game-day entrance during an on-campus visit by a recruit, specifically smoke and players running out of the Husky Stadium tunnel. An NCAA bylaw prohibits prospects from participating in any type of "game-day simulations" during a visit. Washington expected to get an administrative reprimand from the conference for that and did not believe it would jeopardize the eligibility or recruitment of any players.

Mike Matthews, the Pac-10's associate commissioner for compliance, did not immediately return messages left at his office in Walnut Creek, Calif., seeking comment for Washington having two violations in two weeks. His staff is reviewing the incidents.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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