UCF Athletic Director resigns amid NCAA investigation into impermissible benefits

Football assistant coach also resigns; basketball coach suspended

ORLANDO, Fla. - The University of Central Florida's athletic director resigned Wednesday as the NCAA says it investigated the athletics association for impermissible benefits provided by a recruiter.

The NCAA said recruiter Ken Caldwell provided impermissible benefits including cash, tuition and laptops, to prospective football and men's basketball players,

According to the NCAA Caldwell provided more than $11,000 in tuition and university fees to a basketball player while ineligible last season, $500 to a basketball player who competed while ineligible from 2009 to 2011, a $465 laptop to a prospective football player, among other impermissible benefits.

Adm. Al Harms has been named as the interim athletic director while the university conducts a nationwide search for Keith Tribble's replacement. Tribble has been with UCF since 2006. Harms has previously served as interim athletic director.

UCF said in addition to knowing about the improper gifts, Tribble also tried to arrange employment for a football player's mother and lied to the university about knowing Caldwell.

In a letter sent to students Wednesday by University President Dr. John Hitt, Hitt said the university recently received the NCAA report.

Watch: UCF students unfazed by athletic troubles

"I expect our athletics leadership to set the standard for compliance with the NCAA. In our initial evaluation of the NCAA report, we clearly see that our athletics leadership did not live up to that standard," Hitt wrote. "Therefore, today I accepted the resignation of Director of Athletics Keith Tribble. Assistant football coach David Kelly also resigned, and I suspended men's basketball coach Donnie Jones for three conference games without pay and will issue him an official letter of reprimand."

Hitt said Tribble and Kelly were specifically cited for unethical conduct.

Kelly is accused of lying about his relationship with Caldwell.

Although Jones did not receive any NCAA citations, university officials said he did not report the recruitment violations as he should have.

Hitt noted that the shakeup will not impact conference realignment prospects and that the Big East and Conference USA are aware of the investigation

Hitt held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the report.

"Winning is important, but it is not what is most important," Hitt said.

He read the same letter that was sent to students before turning the microphone over to Harms.

Harms said he plans to immediately implement additional oversight for the Athletics Association.

UCF announced earlier this week that basketball players A.J. Rompza and Jeffrey Jordan are ineligible pending the outcome of an investigation, but Hitt emphasized that this investigation involves 11 people, only one of whom has played for "one second." Many did not even attend UCF.

Hitt said UCF will conduct a comprehensive review of the athletics association.

UCF football head coach George O'Leary was not named in the investigation.

NCAA list of impermissible benefits provided:

  • $500 to basketball player who competed while ineligible in 09-10 and 10-11
  • $11,190 in tuition an university fees to basketball player while ineligible in 10-11
  • $465 laptop to 2011 prospective football player
  • $235 transportation expenses to 2011 prospective basketball player
  • $375 in tuition (no other info)
  • $1,375 tuition to 2011 prospective basketball player
  • $1,125 tuition (no other info)
  • $740 in transportation expenses (no other info)

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