- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

The Maryland Terrapins are not expected to face major sanctions when an investigation of allegations that an assistant football coach gave money to a recruit is completed.
Maryland awaits an NCAA review on whether assistant coach Rod Sharpless paid defensive end Victor Abiamiri of the Gilman School in Baltimore $300 to commit to the Terrapins when national letters of intent are signed today.
Sharpless resigned under pressure Monday, and the money was returned, according to sources close to the investigation.
Coach Ralph Friedgen was unavailable for comment yesterday, but he is expected to discuss the investigation today.
A brief statement by university officials Monday said they hoped the self-reported violation would be rated “secondary” instead of “major” by the NCAA. The lesser designation would result only in a letter of reprimand or admonishment to those involved. A decision is expected to be made in two weeks after meetings with football officials and potential recruits.
However, the NCAA doesn’t clearly delineate between major and secondary offenses. While only gifts worth less than $100 are considered secondary violations, other NCAA guidelines said it can’t give the school a “significant” advantage. Whether $300 is considered significant may influence the governing body’s decision.
Still, a review by The Washington Times of 12 sanctions levied by the NCAA last year revealed stiff penalties only against schools with multiple violations and in which “loss of institutional control” was often cited as a reason for harsh sanctions.
Five football programs were penalized, including four Division I teams. All received multiyear probations and lost scholarships, and some also received postseason bans. None was penalized because of a single violation.
A review of NCAA records showed that:
Alabama nearly received the “death penalty,” which would have suspended the program for two major violations in 1995 and 1999. Investigators proved that a recruit received $20,000 in $100 bills while his high school coach also was given unspecified compensation. Alabama was given a two-year bowl ban and five years probation and lost 15 scholarships over three years.
Kentucky was barred from a 2002 bowl and had 19 scholarships eliminated during a three-year probation period for widespread recruiting violations.
California was banned from the 2002 postseason and lost nine grant-in-aids for academic fraud and recruiting misconduct.
Colorado was given two years probation for recruiting violations.
Oklahoma Panhandle State, a Division II school, lost one football scholarship after five sports were placed on probation. The NCAA ruled the school lacked institutional control of its athletic program.
The Terrapins’ biggest worry might lie in the future, when they could face heavy sanctions should more problems occur. The school likely will face greater NCAA scrutiny now, and a repeat violation by the football team or in any other sport could be seen as a pattern of offenses.
Maryland basketball received two-year tournament and one-year television bans in 1990 after reporting 18 violations by former coach Bob Wade. Wade was dismissed for the widespread mistakes violations ranged from improper loans to providing clothes and transportation to recruits and the program needed years to regain its national status.
The Terps already have lost Abiamiri, who was expected to join his two brothers on the Maryland football team. Abiamiri is rated the nation’s No.1 pass-rushing end after producing 16 sacks last season for the Baltimore prep school. However, Maryland couldn’t sign Abiamiri because NCAA rules prohibit a player from joining a school that violated recruiting rules to obtain him. Abiamiri instead is expected to commit to Notre Dame.
Maryland still is expected to sign its best of three recruiting classes under Friedgen when more than 20 players formally commit today. Gwynn Park linebacker Wesley Jefferson and Dunbar tight end Vernon Davis are the leading blue-chippers.

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