NCAA penalizes University of Montana over booster perks


Team coverage of UM NCAA report 07-26-13

MISSOULA, Mont. - An NCAA investigation has found the University of Montana and former coach Robin Pflugrad failed to monitor the football program, allowing boosters to provide benefits to players that included bail money and free legal representation for two athletes.

Other player perks provided by boosters included free meals, clothing, lodging and transportation.

The NCAA launched the investigation on January 30, 2012, when they notified UM President Royce Engstrom in a letter.

Athletic Director Kent Haslam said UM's been cooperating with the NCAA since the start. Even providing an outline for penalties, many of which the NCAA followed. But Haslam and other UM officials got the final report just one hour before it was made public Friday.

Part of that report discusses an incident from October 2011 when two football players, Trumaine Johnson and Gerald Kemp, were arrested after a post-game party got out of hand. The report says the mother of another Griz football player bailed Johnson and Kemp out of jail. It goes on to say another UM booster provided free legal services for the men.

The report found the relationship between football players and boosters goes back even further, citing that from 2004-2012 UM boosters provided meals for at least eight players on more than 100 occasions.

"There are often times good malice, no anything," said Haslam. "Just good intentions can be a violation of NCAA rules."

The penalties announced Friday include a 3-year probation period, the loss of four scholarships for the next three seasons and vacating five wins, including two playoff victories.

The NCAA says ineligible student-athletes took part in those games. Those athletes received help with their legal problems that was not allowed under NCAA rules.

Haslam said he's happy the investigation wrapped up before the fall football season started.

"I don't want to sound like I'm celebratory at all but it is nice to have it concluded," he said. "That the chapter is closed, we can now move forward. The public, everyone can understand exactly what was going on. We know what the penalties are and we can deal with those."

Pflugrad is now an assistant at Weber State. He is suspended from coaching during the first game of the 2013 season and faces recruiting restrictions.

To read the full NCAA report click here.

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