Ashton Kutcher responds; Players initially were ruled ineligible for Iowa because of incident

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IOWA CITY — The NCAA ruled Monday that recruiting violations committed by the University of Iowa men’s basketball program were secondary in nature, but the school has yet to hear from the NCAA’s enforcement wing.

Mark Abbott, Iowa’s associate athletics director for legal affairs, said the university received the NCAA ruling via phone call and a written ruling is forthcoming.

Cedar Rapids Washington senior Josh Oglesby and Linn-Mar junior Marcus Paige — both prospective basketball recruits — spoke with former Iowa players Reggie Evans and Dean Oliver after a scrimmage at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sept. 11, according to documents released by university officials to SourceMedia Group. Later, at the Iowa-Iowa State football game, Oglesby and Paige toured the press box and luxury suite area and met celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

Four days after the encounter, the university received a letter of inquiry from NCAA officials into the incident. The NCAA considers Kutcher, Moore and the former players as representatives of the institutions’s athletics interest, a violation of NCAA Bylaw 13.01.04. Iowa officials concurred, writing the encounters “were the result of sloppy management by our basketball staff” in a letter to NCAA officials.

The NCAA initially ruled the players ineligible to compete at Iowa, but Monday’s ruling allows Iowa to continue to recruit both athletes. Oglesby, a senior, committed to play basketball at Iowa on Sept. 29. Paige, a junior, took an unofficial visit that day and is one of the nation’s most highly sought players for the 2012 class. Attempts to reach either player was unsuccessful.

Kutcher responded Monday night on Twitter, writing he's "Glad to see this has been cleared up. I would never do anything to jeopardize my Hawkeyes."

Fred Mims, Iowa’s associate athletics director in charge of compliance, said the school should receive the NCAA’s penalties within a few weeks.

“We in compliance and the institution can go to a database and look at past cases that they’ve handled,” Mims said. “There’s case precedents that are quoted, unless there’s some new wrinkles that warrants a different treatment, a different outcome. We’ll have to wait and see on this. I don’t want to predict. They might see something more than what we’re seeing at this point in time.”

In a separate incident, the athletics department also admitted the school’s football program inadvertently violated an NCAA rule regarding its off-season workout policy. The secondary violation, which is filed as Category II, is not considered serious.

Iowa officials self-reported the incident to the Big Ten on Oct. 18, 2010 after another institution turned in the school to NCAA authorities. On Aug. 23, the NCAA sent Iowa an official letter of inquiry.

During the summer, the football video staff posted a video on the athletics department public website featuring football players participating in off-season conditioning drills. The video, which could be viewed by the team’s coaching staff or general public, violates NCAA Bylaw 17.02.13, which mandates off-season workouts to be considered voluntary.

The NCAA asked Iowa to investigate the video and the football program’s summer workout schedule. Through its internal review Iowa disclosed the workouts were voluntary and within the NCAA-mandated eight-week limit.

“The Iowa video and coaching staff indicated that the inclusion of students participating in summer activities was not a reporting mechanism for coaches,” Mims wrote in a letter to Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. “The purpose of the video was to allow Iowa fans and supporters to follow the activities of the football program.”

Iowa issued a letter of admonishment and conducted an educational session with the coaching staff. The compliance staff must approve all new video productions in the future.

The violation is the football program’s second since 2007. Iowa reported a telephone violation Sept. 20, 2009 because of a canceled official visit. It was reported to the Big Ten with no further action.

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