President John C. Hitt announced Wednesday that UCF Athletics Director Keith Tribble resigned from his position following the release of an NCAA report that detailed violations that took place within the football and men's basketball programs.
Additionally, the football team's top recruiter, assistant head coach David Kelly, has also resigned. Both resignations came after the NCAA's Notice of Allegations specifically cited Tribble and Kelly for unethical conduct when meeting with NCAA investigators.
Head coach George O'Leary was not implicated in the report.
Hitt also announced the suspension of men's basketball coach Donnie Jones for three conference games without pay. The suspension was self-imposed by the university; not the NCAA.
"These are serious charges that are as unacceptable to me as I am sure they are to all of our fans," Hitt said. "I expect our Athletics leadership to set the standard for compliance, and that is not what took place."
Adm. Al Harms will serve as the interim athletic director in place of Tribble. Hitt says that there is no timetable for a decision to name a permanent director of athletics. O'Leary will look to fill Kelly's position.
The 16-page report details the involvement of Ken Caldwell, of Chicago, described as "a recruiter for a professional sports agency", and his associate Brandon Bender, of Louisville. The two men were found to have violated recruiting rules by having "assisted the institution in the recruitment of six men's basketball and five football prospective student-athletes."
The report goes on to detail the several instances of rules violations. According to the report, Caldwell and Bender had repeated telephone and in-person interaction with prospective recruits (whose names have all been blacked out in the report to protect the student-athletes), with Tribble, Jones and assistant men's basketball coach Darren Tillis all having knowledge of the contact.
Caldwell and Bender also had repeated telephone and in-person contact with football recruits, all of which Tribble and Kelly were aware of, the report states.
More damning was the report's detailing of email communication between Caldwell in Tribble. Several subject lines of the email exchanges were cited, including a message from Caldwell to Tribble sent on December 18, 2010 with the subject line, "Your next receiver from me."
Tribble had previously denied a relationship with Caldwell. The email correspondence extended to Jones, Kelly and other individuals within the program.
Caldwell also was found to have "provided impermissible benefits to men's basketball and football student-athletes and prospective student-athletes."
Some specific instances include allegations that Caldwell made deposits into a men's basketball player's bank account and provided a laptop computer to prospective football recruit.
The NCAA also found Caldwell to have been paying tuition expenses and travel expenses for current and prospective student-athletes.
Both Tribble and Kelly were cited for ethical violations when both men provided false and misleading information during the course of the investigation. Tribble denied knowledge of Caldwell's involvement in the recruiting of specific prospective student-athletes, as did Kelly.
Hitt implied on Wednesday that those ethical violations played a pivotal role in the two individuals choosing to resign. Jones was cited in the report for having "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance" within his program.
The allegations state that Jones was aware of Caldwell's role in assisting with the recruitment of prospects and "failed to try to stop or discourage the activities."
"As the program's head coach, I accept responsibility for mistakes when they occur," Jones said. "I respect Dr. Hitt and the University of Central Florida and believe the decision in this case is fair. I look forward to representing UCF in a positive manner on and off the court."
UCF senior basketball player A.J. Rompza was mentioned by Hitt as a player involved in the NCAA investigation. Rompza continues to sit out of games while practicing with the team. The university has recommended a course of action to the NCAA, which, Hitt says, has not been approved yet.
The release of the NCAA's findings comes at a time when UCF is on the verge of joining the Big East in all sports. Amidst concern that the violations would factor into the school's realignment prospects, Hitt assured students and fans that that would not be the case.
"This is not a game-changer," Hitt said. "The report will not impact our conference realignment process."
Hitt stated that he contacted the commissioners of both Conference USA and the Big East after he received the allegations and that the Big East's commission, John Marinatto, has been aware of and following the investigation throughout the realignment process.
"I called [Big East] commissioner [John] Marinatto today…we talked a little about the events that led up to [today's press conference] and we also talked about [the Big East's] expansion program they have announced," Hitt said. "[The conversation] went rather nicely."
All of the resignations and suspensions announced Wednesday are self-imposed by the university. The NCAA allows institutions 90 days response time once they release their allegations. Hitt stated that he is hopeful that school's preemptive actions, as well as a renewed "Commitment to Compliance", will be taken into consideration by the NCAA.
"When you are a repeat offender, you do go to enhanced penalties," Hitt said. "My hope is, the way we have dealt with this…will be taken into account by the NCAA."
The university has begun a comprehensive review of the Athletics Association and has also made some policy changes. Hitt announced that UCF is immediately requiring the Athletics Association's compliance office to report to the university's chief compliance and ethics officer, as well as the interim Athletics Director.
Hitt acknowledged being disappointed with what has transpired, but wanted the university community and fans to know that the school and the Athletics Association will move forward.
"To our fans, I pledge this: UCF will address these problems in a clear, consistent and just manner," Hitt said.
The PDF detailing the violations is available for download here.