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NCAA contacts UCF athletics amid recruiting reports

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM
ORLANDO -

A Central Florida athletics department spokesman said its compliance department has been contacted by the NCAA amid reports of possible improper recruiting activities.

But associate director of athletics for communications Joe Hornstein said there hasn't been an on-campus visit by the NCAA regarding the basketball or football programs.

UCF confirms it is conducting an internal review of recruiting practices by its programs following reports by the New York Times and ESPN.com detailing a link with Ken Caldwell, who reportedly has ties with ASM sports agency.

The reports also said that Caldwell helped push athletes toward UCF and arranged to have coaches listen to conversations with some players — which would violate NCAA rules.

"We take the current allegations of NCAA violations very seriously," Hornstein said in a statement on the allegations. "Our review of this matter began immediately upon receiving notice. It is premature for us to provide comment regarding these allegations at this time, without having the opportunity to thoroughly and completely review the facts. Following our review we will appropriately address this matter."

Hornstein said there is no timetable to complete its internal probe, as they are "still in information-gathering mode."

UCF athletics director Keith Tribble was attending an athletics tour stop and unavailable for comment.

A phone message left with Caldwell seeking comment was not returned.

UCF's probe is checking into the recruitment of highly ranked basketball recruits Michael Chandler and Kevin Ware, and football recruit DeMarcus Smith.

Chandler, from Indianapolis, Ind., was the No. 4-ranked center in the country and most-highly rated player UCF had ever signed when he inked national letter of intent last month 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 last month. But he recently backed out of his commitment to the Knights.

The same is true for Smith, 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 coached denied it.

Phone messages left with Chandler and Ware were also not returned. The NCAA does not comment on any pending or active investigations.

Caldwell, who lives in Chicago, is characterized in the media reports as being similar to a runner, who works to direct college athletes toward agents.

In the reports Caldwell denied being tied to any agency and said he has only independently promoted the school — which his son also attends — to athletes that he knows. Those athletes include current UCF basketball junior A.J. Rompza, who went to high school in Chicago.

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