Investigation uncovers NCAA infractions in CCU men’s golf program

10/10/2013 8:09 PM

10/10/2013 8:11 PM

The resignation of Coastal Carolina University director of golf and men’s golf coach Allen Terrell on Aug. 30 came after he was informed the school learned of NCAA violations he committed.

The university has self-reported the violations within its men’s golf program of improper extra benefits and recruiting misconduct committed by Terrell and is awaiting a formal decision from the NCAA as to the severity of the infractions.

Terrell resigned after 13 years with the program, just a few weeks before the start of the fall season. The university would not comment then on his resignation, and Terrell told The Sun News at the time that he left on amicable terms to devote his time to running the new Dustin Johnson Golf School at The TPC of Myrtle Beach as well as being available when needed for Johnson, his former pupil and current PGA Tour star.

However, a copy of the university’s report filed to the NCAA was obtained Wednesday through a Freedom of Information request and confirms that Terrell violated multiple NCAA bylaws. The most significant of those infractions were that Terrell gave a former student-athlete five private lessons during his senior year of high school and was not compensated, and that Terrell paid $1,000 for that same golfer to receive 10 private lessons from another local golf instructor during his senior year of high school.

“Over three years ago, I made the mistake of providing means for golf instruction to a high school golfer,” Terrell said in an email Thursday. “The reason I did so was this young man moved to the area for his senior year in high school. Since he transferred in, high school rules would not allow him to play on the local team. My passion has always been helping young adults grow as people and golfers.

“I was simply trying to provide a support system for him to continue to develop. I made a decision with my heart. I was not trying to gain a recruiting advantage as the young man had already signed a letter of intent to attend Coastal Carolina. However, I recognize this was an NCAA violation and take full responsibility for my actions. In 15 years of college coaching it is the only time I provided extra benefits to a student-athlete.”

The initial allegation that prompted the investigation was that Terrell watched a prospective student-athlete hit golf balls on the driving range during an official visit, which is prohibited by NCAA rules. It was discovered that he was on the range the same time as recruits in 2010 and 2011 and that another recruit practiced on the range the same time as the team during an official visit in 2012.

“The investigation by our compliance people was very thorough, looking at all issues that were raised, and certainly as the investigation was ongoing ... other issues came up,” CCU President David DeCenzo said Wednesday.

DeCenzo said he couldn’t answer when asked if the former coach had the option of remaining on staff, saying only “When this was in the process of investigating, he opted to resign.”

“I understand how the timing appears,” Terrell said in a follow-up text message, “but it was truly a family and financial decision.”

Coastal self-imposed its own disciplinary action and sanctions, including a reduction of six practice days for the men’s golf team and a six-week reduction in recruiting time for the program, but the Chanticleers won’t know if they face any further penalties until the NCAA completes its own review. The Coastal athletic department was placed on two-year NCAA probation in 2008 after reporting a major violation committed within the women’s golf program – Terrell was not involved in that violation – and the athletic department needed to avoid another major infraction in the following five years to avoid being considered a “repeat violator,” which could bring about stiffer penalties for the department as a whole.

“This is still under review by the NCAA,” DeCenzo said. “They have received the report. We have been notified that they have assigned one of their investigators to it and we understand there are some backlogs at the NCAA, but it is our hope that we get some information from them in the next 10 days to two weeks.”

NCAA spokesperson Emily Potter said in an email Thursday that NCAA rules forbid the organization from commenting “on current, pending or potential investigations.”

Coastal’s two-year NCAA probation for violations committed by former women’s golf coach Brian Ashley was announced in Dec. 2008 and expired Dec. 16, 2010. Ashley provided two student-athletes with a total of nearly $600 for tuition and boarding expenses.

Coastal assistant athletics director for compliance AraLeigh Beam, who was first notified on Aug. 7 by a “third party” of allegations of the recruiting violations committed on the driving range, said the school’s own investigation took a little over a month before the formal report was submitted to the NCAA.

“Obviously we’re hopeful that we put forth enough penalties to where it’s [sufficient], but you just don’t know 100 percent for sure until you get the final decision from the NCAA, which we haven’t gotten yet,” Beam said Wednesday.

Alasdair Dyer of the Dyer Golf Academy at Barefoot Resort, who has been the personal swing coach for several Coastal golfers, confirmed to The Sun News that he received payment from Terrell for instruction he gave to then Socastee High School senior Easton Renwick. Dyer said he was asked to give the lessons by Terrell and they began around September 2010.

“I didn’t know that was an infringement until all this stuff happened,” Dyer said Thursday.

Renwick played in three tournaments as a CCU freshman in 2011-12 and eight last season as a sophomore before leaving the program, though he said he remains enrolled at the school. Renwick declined to comment on Terrell’s alleged violations, and referred all questions to his attorney.

The revelation of the payment for lessons was not part of the initial allegation and was discovered during the investigation concerning prospective student-athletes practicing with and/or being observed by Terrell on the range during official recruiting visits.

Terrell, who led Coastal to nine Big South Conference championships and four NCAA championship appearances with a fifth-place national finish in 2007, said that his presence on the range was not to watch the recruits.

“As to the allegations of observing visiting prospects, my presence at the golf range was inadvertent, in fact part of my job, and not to observe prospects,” he said in the email. “All of these prospects were already committed to come to CCU and [I] was simply spending time with our team at practice.”

In the report filed to the NCAA, which does not identify specific players, it says a former student-athlete (Renwick) was given five free private lessons by Terrell from August 2010 to December 2010 and 10 private lessons from an instructor (Dyer), for which Terrell paid $1,000.

“[Former Student-Athlete] #2 stated that he did not learn about the payment until long after he became enrolled at the institution,” the report says. “AraLeigh Beam confirmed this information with the golf instructor. The golf instructor confirmed that the payment was given directly to him from Coach Terrell. Since this information has been discovered, AraLeigh Beam has confirmed the money given was for 10 lessons and also confirmed the receipt of the money by securing a copy of the check for documentation. ... AraLeigh Beam did verify with the instructor that Coach Terrell never paid him directly for any other [prospective student-athlete] or student-athlete’s instruction.”

Beam would not say from whom she received the initial allegations. Asked how far back her investigation stretched, she said there was nothing investigated before the 2010 violation.

“The information that was brought to me that I investigated only went to that time,” she said. “There wasn’t anything they brought me that I needed to investigate that went further than that.”

No assistant coaches nor any members of the women’s golf program were connected to the violations.

As part of Coastal’s self-imposed disciplinary action and sanctions, also included in the report, it’s noted that the current student-athlete who was evaluated on the range during his official visit in 2010 will be withheld from two practices, as will the current student-athlete who practiced on the same range as the team on his official visit in 2012 even though Terrell was not found to have watched him practice. Another student-athlete who admits in the report to being observed during a visit graduated in May.

The program’s six-week suspension of on- and off-campus recruiting amounts to a two-week penalty for each recruit that was evaluated on official visits. Coastal has also stopped practicing at The TPC of Myrtle Beach, where the violations occurred, and has begun using golf courses in closer proximity to the school, while implementing a policy prohibiting members of the men’s and women’s golf teams from securing Terrell’s private instruction.

“After giving everything possible to the university for 13 years, I have a tremendous love for Coastal Carolina and will always be a huge fan,” Terrell said in the email. “As a long time community member and new business owner of the Dustin Johnson Golf School, I look forward to following and supporting all of CCU athletic and academic ongoing successes.”

The Chants announced the hiring last month of Kevin McPherson as the school’s new head men’s golf coach.

McPherson said the men’s golf program has already served many of the self-imposed penalties, including the bulk of the six weeks its coaches are prohibited from recruiting. He said the ban is limited to face-to-face recruiting, so the staff still has been permitted to contact recruits through phone calls, texts and emails.

“We’ve already started the process of completing those penalties we put on ourselves,” McPherson said. “That began before I was hired. I’d say a majority of it has already been completed.”

He doesn’t believe the loss of six practice days will slow his players much.

“That’s organized practice,” McPherson said. “If we have some dedicated and structured players, they are going to be practicing on their own.”

The loss of the TPC in Murrells Inlet as a practice facility – Coastal had its own extensive section of the driving range, a short-game area and a performance center building with a weight room and swing analysis technology – could be detrimental, though McPherson believes the team needs something closer to the campus.

Although the Hackler Course at CCU has hitting bays with computerized swing analysis, the driving range is too short and the course doesn’t have enough of a full practice facility, McPherson said. His team has already held some practices at nearby courses Wild Wing Plantation and Myrtle Beach National Golf Club.

“I’ll try to establish some relationships within a close proximity to the campus,” he said.

The true effect of the violations on the program won’t be known until the NCAA makes its ruling.

“We’ll just take it day by day and wait to see what the NCAA comes back with. Right now we have no idea,” said McPherson, who was informed by the school during the interview process of the violations and its report to the NCAA. “If there is any kind of penalty, it’s just a bump in the road and we move on.”

The Sun News golf writer Alan Blondin contributed to this article.

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