The NCAA announced penalties, including a six-month-show-cause order for coach Jimbo Fisher, against the Texas A&M program on Thursday for multiple violations.
According to the NCAA release, Texas A&M “violated NCAA recruiting and countable athletically related activity rules between January 2018 and February 2019,” and Fisher “violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules.” The punishments stem from an incident in which Fisher and an assistant had impermissible recruiting contact with a player at his high school. The contact violated NCAA rules because it happened before the player had completed his junior year of high school.
The assistant named in the release is Jay Graham, who currently serves as running backs coach at Tennessee. Upon the announcement of his involvement in the violations while at Texas A&M, Tennessee released a statement of its own in support of Graham, noting they were made aware of the violations during the process of bringing him into the Volunteers program.
“During the process of hiring Coach Jay Graham, we were made aware of the circumstances at his previous institution, and we vetted it thoroughly in accordance with NCAA and SEC bylaws,” the statement read. “We established and maintain extremely high confidence in Coach Graham’s commitment to compliance and are proud to have him on our staff.”
In addition to the recruiting violation highlighted in the statement, Texas A&M and Fisher were also found to have not ensured that the program stayed within the allowable number of countable activity hours.
The NCAA ultimately ruled that Fisher “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance because of his personal involvement in the recruiting violation” and that he “failed to monitor his staff when he did not ensure the program was staying within the allowable number of countable athletically related activity hours.”
“As Texas A&M’s Head Football Coach, I am responsible for promoting and monitoring for NCAA compliance in our program,” Fisher said in a statement released by the school. “While I am disappointed in the violations, including an unintended one that resulted from a conversation with a high school athlete, it is still my responsibility to ensure we are adhering to each and every rule. I am pleased to have this matter completely behind our program and look forward to continuing our efforts to make every aspect of our program one all Aggies can continue to be proud of.”
The terms of Fisher’s six-month show cause stemming from the violations read as follows:
The terms of the show-cause order include a previously served nine-day ban on phone calls, emails or texts with prospects in January 2020; a reduction in off-campus recruiting contact days by three for the December 2019 through January 2020 contact period; a ban on all off-campus recruiting activities for the fall 2020 contact period; additional one-on-one rules education; and a public statement from the head coach addressing the violations.
Remaining penalties levied against Texas A&M include one year of probation, a $5,000 fine and an off-campus recruiting ban for the coaching staff that took place in November 2019. The school was also forced to end its recruitment of the player and will not be allowed to recruit any players from the recruit’s high school through the end of the 2021-22 school year.
Fisher has been at Texas A&M for two seasons, going 17-9 overall and 9-7 in SEC play. His last twoTexas A&M recruiting classes have finished in the top six of 247Sports’ composite rankings. The school’s 2021 class currently ranks 27th nationally.
The entirety of the NCAA’s release can be read here.