Three Wisconsin assistant football coaches have been admonished for violating NCAA rules by visiting prospects during an off-limits recruiting period, according to records released Friday.
The coaches - defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, recruiting coordinator Randall McCray and wide receivers coach DelVaughn
Alexander - made the Jan. 4 trips during a "quiet period" in which no recruiting visits to players can be made.
A university official caught the violations in February while reviewing a recruiting log filled out by one of the coaches. The university reported the trips to the NCAA on March 27 as an inadvertent rules violation.
Doeren and McCray visited a defensive recruit at his Chicago home. He later committed to Illinois. Alexander visited a Wisconsin-bound recruit at his home in Cincinnati. The players' names were not released.
"Even inadvertent violations compromise the integrity of our athletics department and diminish the reputation of our institution," assistant athletic director Steve Waterfield told the coaches in letters of admonishment dated March 27. They were released Friday after a request by The Associated Press.
Senior associate athletic director Vince Sweeney said the visits came on a Sunday when recruiting had been allowed in previous years. A change in the NCAA recruiting calendar this year made it the final day of a winter quiet period, he said.
"They should have known the calendar changed," he said. "We didn't forgive them, but that's how it happened. They felt terrible about it."
He said the handling of the violations demonstrates Wisconsin's aggressive efforts to ensure compliance with NCAA rules.
In reporting the violations, the university declared the recruit from Cincinnati ineligible but asked the NCAA to reinstate him. The university learned Thursday the recruit had been reinstated - and his family was surprised to find out there had been a problem, Sweeney said.
In the future, Sweeney said the department would consider telling players and parents about such "routine, procedural" problems that may affect eligibility. In this instance, he said the school was confident all along the player would be reinstated. He said he does not expect the NCAA to take further action.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said most of the 2,000 requests for reinstatement are granted each year and infractions for recruiting calendar violations are fairly common. The NCAA limits recruiting contacts to prevent students from being inundated with requests from coaches while they are finishing high school, she said.
Osburn said minor violations like Wisconsin's are defined as giving only a minimal recruiting advantage. She would not say what action, if any, the NCAA has taken in response to Wisconsin's report.
In its report to the NCAA, the school said Waterfield met with Coach Bret Bielema "to emphasize the importance of adhering to all recruiting calendar guidelines at all times."
The school said it also prohibited three coaches from participating during the first two days of the spring recruiting period this month.
In his letter of admonishment, Waterfield praised the coaches for cooperating with the investigation. But he also said the letters would be added to their personnel files and that NCAA violations "may also affect your salary and/or your employment status."