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Mississippi State To Lose Scholarships, Retain TV And Bowl Games

March 7, 1996

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ The NCAA put Mississippi State on probation Thursday after determining that an employee and two boosters made improper inducements to potential football recruits.

The school could have received more severe penalties, but the NCAA allowed the Bulldogs to remain eligible for television appearances and postseason play.

Athletic Director Larry Templeton, in New Orleans for the Southeastern Conference basketball tournament, scheduled a news conference to address the sanctions. University president Donald Zacharias planned to comment from the Starkville campus.

Alleged violations by recruiting intern Boris Banks during the 1991-93 school years were the most serious of the four infractions that prompted the penalties, said David Swank, NCAA Infractions Committee chairman.

The committee found that Banks offered money to two potential football signees from Florida if they would visit the campus.

Neither did and no money exchanged hands, according to Swank. He said there was no evidence that either Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherill or any other university official was aware of the violations.

Under the year-long probation, effective Thursday, Mississippi State may only offer 12 scholarships to new recruits, down from the usual 25. It also must cut the total number of existing football scholarships from 85 to 80.

The ruling also reduces the expense-paid visits by football signees from 56 to 42.

Swank told reporters in a teleconference that the sanctions are in line with recent NCAA decisions to lean more heavily on scholarship cuts and ease up on TV and bowl game bans.

``Television penalties actually affect a lot of other people rather than just the school itself,″ including other schools that would play the banned team, Swank said. ``It actually penalizes everybody else. That doesn’t mean in the appropriate case we will not impose a TV ban.″

Other infractions listed by the committee included unauthorized benefits from Bulldog booster Steve Wells to five football players. The NCAA said Wells gave bonuses, meals and loans to athletes who worked part-time at his publishing firm.

The third involved a ``lack of institutional control″ on the part of Mississippi State. Swank said school athletic officials did not adequately investigate several warnings that people involved with the football program might be breaking NCAA rules.

``The university made a cursory investigation and determined to their satisfaction that there were no problems,″ he said. ``Had the university made a more careful investigation, they would have discovered there were violations, and these could have been brought to a halt more quickly than they were.″

Swank said that Mississippi State’s initial lack of cooperation with the NCAA was not serious enough to warrant a separate charge.

The final violation was unethical conduct by staff members. ``Actually, there were only a number of limited (unethical) actions found by the committee in this case,″ he said.

Mississippi State was given a break in part because the university already had taken some actions considered by the NCAA as corrective measures, Swank said. These included the creation of a full-time compliance officer and the assignment of an internal auditor to monitor the athletic department and to investigate potential violations.

The university also had reduced for two months in 1994 the number of coaches who could recruit off campus and disassociated itself with two boosters _ one of whom was a fired staff member _ for at least three years.

The NCAA had leveled 21 allegations, but later dropped five against associate athletic director Wesley Reed. The school admitted to eight infractions, including charges involving Banks and Wells.

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