WACO, Texas — Less than a week after its women’s basketball team won the national championship, Baylor University said Monday it has been involved in a three-year investigation with the NCAA into what are believed to be hundreds of impermissible phone calls and text messages sent by coaches to young prospects.
The school did not describe any details of the investigation, including which sports were involved, but the announcement came a few hours after ESPN.com reported that coaches for both the men’s and women’s basketball programs had made more than 1,200 calls and text messages to prospects over a 29-month span dating to 2008. ESPN.com cited an NCAA report it had obtained.
University of Maine women’s basketball coach Richard Barron, who was a member of head coach Kim Mulkey’s Baylor staff from 2007-09 as the recruiting coordinator, declined to comment on the situation. He said it would be unprofessional of him as a former Baylor employee to address the allegations publicly when school officials have not done so.
However, Barron spoke to his own accountability in regard to adherence to NCAA rules.
“As a (University of) Maine employee and Maine coach, people have nothing to worry about as far as me and my role at Baylor,” offered Barron, who said he is not mentioned in the NCAA report cited by ESPN.com.
Barron described himself as an honest person who has made himself accountable on any occasion that he unknowingly committed a violation of NCAA rules, which he said can be difficult to interpret.
“Any violations that I ever committed at Maine, at Baylor, at Princeton or at Suwanee were self-reported as I was instructed to do,” Barron said. “I have always operated with the strictest of ethical and moral behavior.”
The NCAA may dole out harsher punishment than what is listed in the report, which details a number of self-imposed penalties including barring Mulkey from recruiting off campus in July and fewer scholarships for both programs.
Nick Joos, Baylor’s executive associate athletic director for external affairs, said the school had not received notice of a “final decision” from the infractions committee.
“Regarding today’s premature public reports of the matter, the institution remains committed to protecting the integrity of the totality of the case in accordance with its obligations under NCAA legislation and, therefore, the university, and its officials, will make no comment,” Joos said.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said the NCAA would not comment on the case because it’s still under review.
“However, each member agrees to abide by the rules established by the association and our membership expects those who do not follow the rules will be held accountable,” he said in a statement.
The report comes as Baylor athletics is in the midst of a heyday.
The Baylor women beat Notre Dame for the national title last week, capping the first 40-0 season in NCAA history. The men’s team, coached by Scott Drew, won a school-record 30 games and reached an NCAA regional final, where it lost to eventual national champion Kentucky.
Mulkey was named AP’s national coach of the year and Brittney Griner was AP national player of the year. Drew’s team spent much of the season in the top 10 and star quarterback Robert Griffin III became the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner after leading the Bears to 10 wins for the first time since 1980.
According to the summary disposition quoted by ESPN.com, Mulkey, Drew and their assistants were involved in sending 738 impermissible text messages and making 528 impermissible calls. The violations were termed “major” because of their frequency.
According to the report, Griner’s recruitment is part of the investigation.
The report said Mulkey and her staff committed minor NCAA violations for having impermissible contact with Griner and her family. During a 2007 camp, coaches spoke with the Griners about the basketball program, academic requirements and the school in general both before and after the camp.
Mulkey also reportedly broke NCA rules when she sat next to Griner’s father and discussed what the Baylor experience would be like. Brittney Griner, who is from the Houston area, played on the same AAU team as Mulkey’s daughter, Makenzie Robertson.
Besides keeping Mulkey off the recruiting trail in July, Baylor said one of her assistants, Damion McKinney, has been barred from making recruiting calls since January through April. The school also reduced its women’s basketball scholarships from 15 to 13 in 2011-12.
FOXSports.com reported in October 2010 that the NCAA was investigating the men’s program’s recruitment of Hanner Perea. The FOXSports report said assistant coach Mark Morefield sent dozens of texts to Perea’s AAU and high school coaches while they were coaching events, which is against NCAA rules.
The report cited Monday by ESPN.com said Morefield urged two AAU coaches to provide false and misleading information to the NCAA about a series of text messages — a major violation. Morefield resigned in July 2011.
Current men’s assistants Paul Mills and Jerome Tang also were named in the report. The school reportedly prohibited Drew and Tang from making recruiting calls in January and February this year, and reduced the maximum number of official recruiting visits to campus from 12 to seven in 2012-13.
Drew demonstrated a “failure to monitor” the activities of two assistant coaches and there was an overall “failure to monitor” by the institution, according to the report.
The report also said there were 405 additional impermissible calls and text messages from nine different sports, ranging from football to the equestrian program, from January to July 2011.
The NCAA violations come nine years after Baylor basketball player Patrick Dennehy was found shot to death after he had been missing for six weeks. Teammate Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty to murder. The ensuing investigation uncovered NCAA violations, illegal tuition payments and unreported failed drug tests that led to the resignation of coach Dave Bliss, who was secretly recorded by an assistant coach of trying to persuade others to cover up misdeeds by portraying Dennehy as a drug dealer.