UCF president John Hitt announced Wednesday that Keith Tribble, the athletic director since 2006, had resigned amid an NCAA investigation into the school's football and basketball programs.
In addition to Tribble's resignation, UCF wide receivers coach Dave Kelly, one of head football coach George O'Leary's top recruiters, also resigned.
Second-year men's basketball coach Donnie Jones was suspended three games and given a letter of reprimand for his alleged actions in relation to the investigation.
The school held a news conference Wednesday to make the announcement after the NCAA sent out a notice of allegations earlier this week. The 16-page document detailed numerous claims involving Tribble, Kelly and Jones and their relationships with Ken Caldwell, a recruiter for a professional sports agency, and Brandon Bender, an associate of Caldwell's.
The report claims that Tribble and other members of the basketball and football coaching staffs knew that Caldwell had relationships with multiple football and basketball recruits, but "failed to adequately explore or monitor the activities of Caldwell and his associates in relation to those prospects to ensure NCAA rules compliance."
In addition, the report says that Tribble "allowed Caldwell and his associates to receive tangible benefits and favors," from the UCF athletics department, including access to Tribble and coaches, event tickets and out-of-state tuition fee waivers.
According to the report, Caldwell and Bender assisted the school in the recruitment of six men's basketball players and five football players by promoting the school's athletic programs. According to the NCAA's findings, Caldwell also provided impermissible benefits to both men's basketball and football players and recruits.
Among the allegations were claims that Caldwell made deposits totaling 500 into the bank account of a men's basketball player. The report also alleges that Caldwell "arranged 11,190.45 for tuition and university fees" for another men's basketball player.
Caldwell allegedly paid 375 in tuition expenses for a UCF athlete and made tuition payments of 1,375 and 1,125 for other athletes. The report also claims that Caldwell gave a laptop valued at 465.25 to a prospective football recruit, arranged to pay 234.90 in transportation expenses for a men's basketball recruit and paid 740.14 in travel expenses for another unnamed recruit.
All of the names in the NCAA's notice of allegations had been redacted before the document was distributed, but some of the names tied to Caldwell in previous reports included basketball recruits Kevin Ware and Michael Chandler.
During his news conference, Hitt said that only one of the 11 players named in the report actually played for a UCF athletic team. Knights point guard A.J. Rompza has been connected to Caldwell in the past both are Chicago natives, and Caldwell has called himself Rompza's "mentor" and Rompza is currently serving a suspension while the NCAA decides on his eligibility.
In addition to the claims regarding impermissible benefits, the report alleges that in January and February 2011, Tribble and Caldwell attempted to arrange employment for the mother of a football player within the university.
The report also says Tribble provided false and misleading information to the school and enforcement staff during interviews on May 5 and Sept. 7, 2011. In those interviews, Tribble is alleged to have denied knowledge of Caldwell's involvement in the recruitment of a basketball player and a football player to UCF.
Kelly is also reported to have lied during an Aug. 29, 2011, interview during which he told enforcement staff that Caldwell had not assisted the football program with the recruitment of players. According to the report, Caldwell had in-person and telephone contact with four football recruits as well as telephone contact with a fifth, and Tribble and Kelly were aware of the contact.
As for the basketball program, the NCAA's report claims that Jones "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men's basketball program."
The report alleges that Jones was aware that Caldwell was improperly assisting the school's athletic programs but "failed to try to stop or discourage the activities, ask reasonable questions about the circumstances or report violations." Jones also allegedly told a men's basketball staffer to indicate to a senior member of the athletics department that a player "was in good standing" with the program when, in fact, he was not.
The news of Tribble's resignation comes at an unfortunate time for UCF, as the Knights are expected to accept an invitation to the Big East Conference sometime this week. Hitt said he spoke with Big East commissioner John Marinatto about the investigation and that the allegations would not impact UCF's expected move.
"I think it's moving around rather nicely," Hitt told reporters. "It's not a game changer. It doesn't delay or impede our entry into the Big East."
Hitt said he hoped the actions taken now would help the school avoid harsher sanctions when the investigation is completed. The university has until Feb. 5, 2012, to respond to the latest NCAA report, and Scott Cole, the school's general counsel, told reporters the university believes "most of the investigation is done."
UCF had previously been placed on probation after the school self-reported violations when officials learned that two former employees had made more than 200 improper phone calls and sent 100 improper text messages to nearly 30 football recruits and their parents between June 2007 and January 2009.
Admiral Al Harms, UCF's vice president for strategy, marketing, communications and admissions has been appointed as the interim AD while the school conducts a national search for Tribble's replacement.
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