The Arizona State football program has been mired in controversy over the past year due to a recruiting scandal that led to a recent self-imposed bowl ban for the 2023 season. The sanctions come as the culmination of an NCAA investigation that has already seen massive turnover on the Sun Devils coaching staff.
Allegations of Widespread Recruiting Violations
The NCAA investigation began in May 2021 after a dossier was submitted alleging a pattern of egregious recruiting violations by Arizona State coaches and staff. The most damaging allegations centered around violations of NCAA rules during the COVID-19 dead period in 2020, when all in-person recruiting was prohibited.
According to the allegations, ASU coaches and staff gave dozens of recruits in-person tours of facilities, allowed families to travel to campus for visits, and even worked out prospects at local parks. There were also accusations of coaches arranging travel for recruits in violation of NCAA rules.
The dossier allegedly included photographic evidence of former head coach Herm Edwards giving tours to top recruits when visits were barred. It detailed a pervasive culture of brazenly disregarding recruiting restrictions under Edwards and his staff.
Mass Exodus of Coaching Staff
The fallout from the scandal has already been immense well before sanctions were handed down. Five full-time ASU assistants have been fired or left the program since the investigation came to light.
Most notably, defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce, accused of being the ringleader of the violations, resigned in January. He was followed out the door by offensive coordinator Zak Hill and several other position coaches tied to the allegations.
The staff turnover also claimed Edwards himself, who was dismissed just three games into the 2022 season. His tenure ended with a home loss to Eastern Michigan that dropped the team to 1-2.
First-Year Coach Dealt Difficult Blow
The timing of the sanctions dealt a tough blow to new ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham, particularly as he prepared for his debut against Southern Utah. The program’s decision to self-impose a bowl ban, revealed shortly before the game, has cast a shadow over the team’s prospects for the season.
With over 50 current players recruited by Dillingham, who have no direct ties to the previous staff or scandal, the impact of this unexpected development has been profound. Insider reports suggest that the team’s initial reaction to the news was nothing short of “devastating,” especially for those veteran players who were eagerly anticipating their final college season on the field.
In light of these challenges, Dillingham finds himself in an “upsetting” situation that demands strong leadership and resilience. His primary focus is now to inspire his team, helping them rally together to overcome adversity and maintain their competitive spirit. It’s anticipated that Dillingham’s dedication to guiding his players through this difficult period could even lead to a contract extension for the first-year coach, a testament to his commitment to the program’s success.
Amidst the uncertainty, college football enthusiasts following the situation closely might be keeping an eye on how the odds are shifting, particularly with platforms like FanDuel NCAAF Odds providing insights into the evolving landscape of the game. As the season unfolds, Dillingham’s ability to steer his team through these challenging waters will undoubtedly be a storyline to watch, irrespective of any platform’s analysis.
Severe Punishment Still Looming
The self-imposed bowl ban indicates Arizona State is bracing for severe sanctions from the NCAA. With over 50 major violations alleged, the program’s transgressions exceed any other Power Five school.
While recent cases have seen fines replace bowl bans, ASU’s decision hints the NCAA will come down hard. The notice of allegations has yet to be delivered but is expected during the 2022 season.
The scandal could also bring individual show-cause penalties for coaches like Pierce and Hill. Arizona State is facing sanctions well beyond a one-year bowl ban and staff turnover.
Dark Cloud Over Sun Devil Program
The recruiting violations represent the latest controversy for an Arizona State program that has run afoul of NCAA rules before. The Sun Devils had scholarship reductions in the mid-90s stemming from improper benefits given to star quarterback Jake Plummer.
Meanwhile, Edwards was hired in 2017 in hopes of leading the team to new heights after over a decade as an NFL coach and broadcaster. Instead, his tenure ended in embarrassment and left the program piecing itself back together under Dillingham.
The severity of the allegations and sanctions indicate a long road back to respectability for Arizona State. Some fans are already looking at 2023 NCAAF odds and realizing the team faces an uphill battle. However, Dillingham will attempt to galvanize his roster in the wake of the sanctions levied against the sins of past regimes.