Drip. Drip. Drip…
That’s the agonizing process that NCAA investigations usually follow. They start out with a bang as the allegations go public, and then move forward for months, even years, with new tidbits coming to light as the probe goes along.
The Arizona State football program is finding out just how frustrating, and harmful, that process can be. Two weeks ago, the school put assistant coach Adam Breneman on paid administrative leave in the wake of NCAA allegations into recruiting violations at the Pac-12 school.
And now two more coaches have been put on administrative leave, throwing the program into more upheaval with just three weeks before the season opener with Southern Utah.
The investigation began in June when an anonymous source sent a file of alleged evidence to the ASU athletics department showing that members of the coaching staff brought recruits to campus during the 15 months that had been declared a “dead period” to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The school’s own internal investigation is evidently beginning to work its way through the allegations, culling out those coaches it has determined could have been involved in the potential violations.
Breneman was the team’s tight ends coach and one of the program’s key recruiters. The latest staff members to join Breneman in the penalty box include wide receivers coach Prentice Gill and defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins. Earlier this week, both were placed on administrative leave. That equates to about one-third of the on-field coaching staff.
Both Hawkins and Gill, who was also serving as assistant recruiting director, were about to begin their second season as position coaches. Breneman served as a graduate assistant for the 2020 season and was named tight ends coach following season’s end.
Hawkins was a graduate assistant at USC, his alma mater, before joining the Sun Devils. Gill came to the program from Oregon where he was an offensive analyst.
Juston Wood, who has been serving as an offensive analyst, has taken over Breneman’s job for now, while Donnie Henderson, on staff as a consultant and special advisor, has been named interim defensive backs coach.
The most damaging effects of losing these three coaches, should they eventually be let go, won’t be felt until after the season ends. All three have been very effective recruiters to the Sun Devil program.
Perhaps, however, a bit too zealous.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)