ORLANDO, Fla. – University of Central Florida president John Hitt pledged to fully cooperate with NCAA investigators after receiving a letter of inquiry about possible violations the football and basketball programs.
The school received the letter Tuesday and was advised that its status will be updated in six-month intervals. UCF made its receipt of the letter public Wednesday.
The probe likely stems from the recruitment of highly-ranked basketball recruits Michael Chandler and Kevin Ware, and that of football recruit DeMarcus Smith. It also could look into the relationship the school or recruits might have had with a man named Ken Caldwell, who reportedly also has ties with ASM sports agency.
But the NCAA also said in the inquiry letter that although the current probe is focused just on football and basketball that new information developed through its investigation could expand it.
"Compliance is the top priority for UCF athletics; playing by the rules is the only way to play," Hitt said in a statement released through the school Wednesday. "We will cooperate fully with the NCAA. If we have done something wrong, we will deal with it in a manner that is consistent with our responsibilities as a member of the NCAA and our own high standards of conduct."
None of the three athletes the investigation could focus on have begun taking classes at the school.
UCF first began conducting an internal review of recruiting practices by its programs in May following reports by The New York Times and ESPN.com detailing a link with Caldwell, who reportedly has ties with ASM sports agency.
The reports also said Caldwell helped push athletes toward UCF and arranged to have coaches listen to conversations with some players — which would violate NCAA rules.
Chandler, from Indianapolis, was the No. 4-ranked center in the country and most highly rated player UCF had ever signed when he inked a national letter of intent in April to play for the Knights. He had previously committed to Louisville and Xavier.
Ware, from Conyers, Ga., was released from a national letter of intent he signed with Tennessee after coach Bruce Pearl was fired. He subsequently signed a grant-in-aid with UCF in April. But he then backed out of his commitment to the Knights.
Smith's situation had a few more twists and turns. A quarterback from Louisville, Ky., he originally verbally committed to Louisville, but wound up signing a national letter with the Knights. He had second thoughts in March and asked UCF coach George O'Leary for a release, but the coach denied it.
Smith then reversed field again, and was reportedly eager report to UCF this spring. But that never happened.
UCF said in its statement Wednesday that because of the alleged infractions it is also conducting a third-party investigation of its NCAA compliance.
The school has retained Mike Glazier, head of the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of the Bond, Schoeneck & King law firm, to lead the third-party investigation. It is giving Glazier full access to its personnel and documents to do his review.
"Mr. Glazier will conduct his investigation in a thorough and unbiased manner and will draw conclusions based on the evidence as it is applied to the NCAA standard of proof, regardless of whether he believes NCAA violations have or have not occurred," Hitt said.
UCF also said in its statement that it will reserve further comment on this matter until the investigations are complete.
UCF was put on probation for two years in February 2010 after two non-coaching football staff members were found to have "placed numerous impermissible telephone calls and text messages to perspective student-athletes and/or their parents" between 2007 and 2009.