University of Pittsburgh hit with probation for NCAA violations in basketball, football

Pittsburgh coach Kevin Stallings reacts to a foul call as his team plays agianst Wake Forest during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Wake Forest won 63-57. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The University of Pittsburgh was hit with NCAA probation Thursday after it was discovered that the school’s men’s basketball and football programs committed violations between August 2015 and March 2018. Pitt self-reported the violations, resulting in Thursday’s announcement. 

While both programs were found to have committed violations related to the number of coaches instructing student-athletes, the more significant violations occurred in basketball under the watch of Kevin Stallings.

As a result of the violations, Pitt’s athletic department has been placed on probation for three years, concluding on February 19, 2023. The university will not be hit with any scholarship reductions or postseason restrictions in either sport.

"Pitt Athletics is steadfastly committed to integrity and NCAA rules compliance,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “A reflection of that strong commitment is the fact that, upon discovering these violations, we immediately provided a self-report to the NCAA and began a cooperative and thorough review. While disappointed in the violations, I am confident that our already-strong culture of compliance will help each of our programs avoid such situations in the future."

Pitt’s basketball violations

In a release put out in conjunction with the university, NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions determined that Stallings “instructed and allowed three noncoaching staff members to perform coaching duties,” exceeding the NCAA’s rules on the number of permissible coaches. 

Stallings had a system in place to ensure the violations would not be detected. He also “ordered the deletion of practice video” to avoid detection and was found to be “involved directly in the violations” even after being warned by Pitt administrators. 

From the NCAA:

The agreement said the former men’s basketball coach developed an alert system to ensure noncoaching staff would not be caught on the practice floor coaching student-athletes. The former head coach also ordered the deletion of practice video in an apparent attempt to prevent the administration from confirming violations had occurred.

The former men’s basketball coach did not promote an atmosphere for compliance, according to the agreement. The former men’s basketball coach was involved directly in the violations, and he did not end the violations after being warned by athletics department administrators. 

The NCAA also docked the program for impermissibly producing “personalized recruiting videos” for 12 recruits and said the former director of basketball operations “violated NCAA ethical conduct” for refusing to interview with NCAA investigators. 

As a result, Stallings, who was fired in 2018 after a disastrous two-year tenure with the program, was hit with a three-year NCAA show-cause penalty. If Stallings were to find another coaching job, he would be suspended for 30 percent of his first season on that job. Stallings came to Pittsburgh in 2016 after a 17-year run at Vanderbilt. The Panthers went 16-17 (4-14 ACC) in his first season before a miserable 8-24 record in the 2017-18 season. That year included an 0-18 mark in ACC play. 

In addition to his show-cause, Stallings’ conduct resulted in other minor penalties for the Pitt basketball program, including having one fewer coach present for part of the 2019-20 practice schedule and a “reduction of countable athletically-related activities” in spring 2020. 

Pitt is currently in its second season with longtime Duke assistant Jeff Capel in place as head coach. The Panthers are 15-12 overall with a 6-10 mark in ACC play this season.

Pitt’s football violations

On the football side, it was determined that three quality control assistants “engaged in impermissible coaching activities” while head coach Pat Narduzzi was present. The violations — exceeding the number of permissible coaches — occurred between August 2015 and November 2017. 

Like the basketball program, the football program also had a system in place to alert the staff when “outside parties were present at the practice facility.” Per the NCAA, the program would play music when administrators were present. When music played, quality control staff members “reported that they would make sure they were not near student-athletes.”

As a result, the NCAA and university agreed that Narduzzi did not “promote an atmosphere of compliance.”

The university, football coach and enforcement staff agreed the football coach did not promote an atmosphere for compliance when he asked one individual to assist and was present when three others performed coaching activities. Additionally, the agreement said the football coach did not monitor his staff when he did not prevent the violations from occurring.

Narduzzi will not be allowed to participate in two days of preseason practice in August. He also was withheld from one week of off-campus recruiting during the recent contact period. Other penalties for the football program include:

  • A reduction of countable athletically related activities for the football program by eight hours and the number of countable coaches by one for two days of practice during the 2018 football season.

  • A reduction in the number of football countable coaches by one for four days of practice in the 2019-20 academic year.

  • Two football quality control staff members must be removed from practice for three days during the 2019-20 academic year.

"As head coach of the University of Pittsburgh football program, I am wholeheartedly committed to following NCAA rules and preventing these types of issues from happening again,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “I fully recognize my responsibility in what occurred and, equally important, how those missteps will be corrected as we proceed forward."

Narduzzi is entering his sixth season as Pitt’s head coach. He has a 36-29 record with the program, including a 24-16 mark in conference play.

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