(COLORADO SPRINGS) — The United States Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) football program was put on a two-year probation and issued other penalties by the NCAA for recruiting violations committed during COVID-19 dead periods.

The NCAA said USAFA, along with four individuals in connection to the alleged violations reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on appropriate penalties. A fifth individual is currently fighting the allegations, according to the NCAA. The Committee on Infractions (COI) will consider his portion of the case, before the committee’s final decision is released.

ESPN said that USAFA’s former defensive line coach, Bill Sheridan, was one of the coaches involved in the investigation. Sources from the Action Network also reported in May that the Falcons were investigated for hosting high school prospects on campus and providing them with improper benefits during dead periods in 2020.

According to the NCAA, the COI was asked by the Air Force and the four individuals who did not contest the allegations, to publicly release the findings in order to immediately begin serving the penalties.

“The [COI] appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, Chief Hearing Officer for the infractions panel and President at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

The NCAA said in addition to the Falcons being placed on two years of probation, they will also pay an unspecified fine and face recruiting restrictions that are effective immediately:

  • A reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program during the 2022-23 and 2023-24 academic years.
  • A prohibition against unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022.
  • A prohibition against all recruiting communications in football for four weeks during the 2022-23 academic year.
  • A reduction in evaluation days for football by 10 during spring 2022 and by 34 during fall 2022.
  • A reduction of the football squad size by 10 for four years, starting with the 2022-23 academic year.
  • Show-cause orders for the individuals who have agreed to their violations and penalties.

A joint statement issued by the Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and Director of Athletics Nathan Pine, was sent to FOX21 on Thursday, Sept. 29.

The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff. We are working cooperatively with the NCAA Enforcement staff and Committee on Infractions to bring the matter to completion. Per NCAA rules and procedures, Air Force is unable to comment on any aspect of the ongoing case until it is fully resolved.