Last Updated on January 17, 2024
The Florida State football program faces two years of probation, among other penalties, due to “impermissible recruiting contact” between a transfer prospect and a booster in April 2022. The negotiated resolution between FSU and the NCAA addressed the infraction, in which Alex Atkins, an assistant coach, facilitated a meeting between the prospect, his parents and Rising Spear, an NIL collective.
Atkins not only told the prospect about the meeting but transported him and his parents to and from it. There, the booster proceeded to offer the prospect a deal with the collective amounting to $15,000 a month for at least one year. The assistant coach did not attend the meeting.
Furthermore, the booster went on to contact the athlete and his mother by text and/or phone call following the meeting. Shortly thereafter, the prospect withdrew his name from the portal and remained at his current school.
The resolution classified these actions as a Level II violation, constituting infractions that “provide or are intended to provide more than a minimal but less than a substantial or extensive recruiting, competitive or other advantage.” The combination of meeting the booster, the NIL deal and continued contact of both the prospect and his mother after the fact aligns with this criteria.
FSU Penalties for NIL Infraction
Several penalties were agreed upon in the resolution, including two years of probation for the football program and a reduction of five scholarships over that period. As far as recruiting, the program now has seven fewer paid visits, and its six unused visits from last year will not roll over. Additionally, the recruiting staff will face a reduction in communications by a total of six weeks during the 2023-24 and 2024-25 academic years as well as 24 fewer recruiting days throughout the 2023-24 academic year.
The assistant coach faces penalties for his role in the meeting as well. During the investigation, he twice denied facilitating the meeting between the booster and the prospect but was truthful about his role in their transportation. He is suspended from FSU’s next three regular-season games with an additional two-week restriction on recruiting communication. He was also restricted from all off-campus recruiting during the fall of 2023 and is required to attend the NCAA regional rules seminar.
The program is required to dissociate for three years from the booster and one year from the collective. Because the decision came from a negotiated resolution between the school and the NCAA, Florida State is not able to appeal and no precedent will be set.
Reaction from Rising Spear
Rising Spear released the following statement:
“On behalf of the co-founders, board of directors, and staff of Rising Spear Gold Standard LLC (“Rising Spear”), we are disappointed to review the penalties approved by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, which were announced Thursday evening. Through a negotiated resolution process the institution, coach and enforcement staff agreed that the violation occurred in the Spring Semester of 2022. Rising Spear separated from the individual employee (booster) referenced in the NCAA report immediately upon learning of the incident. The co-founders, employees or interns of Rising Spear have never spoken or communicated with the NCAA on this matter. None of Rising Spear’s current employees, interns or contractors worked for Rising Spear at the time of the violation.
“It is essential to note that these penalties expressly permit Rising Spear to continue working with student-athletes, including those who attend Florida State University. This is also true of its sister organization, Rising Spear Garnet Spirit, Inc., which was not involved in the allegations at hand and has provided more than 2,000 hours of charitable service to the Tallahassee community since its inception. Rising Spear and Rising Spear Garnet Spirit, Inc. collectively have a relationship with more than 100 student-athletes from the following sports: Baseball, Beach Volleyball, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Tennis, Volleyball, and Men’s & Women’s Basketball. Nothing about these penalties changes those relationships or agreements.
“Our priority is always the success and well-being of our student-athletes, they are our WHY and we remain committed to serving them daily. Under my personal leadership since May 2022, Rising Spear has strenuously endeavored to follow the burgeoning and ever-changing regulations in this area. This will also include the ongoing new rules adopted this week and into the future. Rising Spear will continue to serve as a good and ethical partner to the student-athletes, Leon County and business partners.”
These are the second NIL-related sanctions the NCAA has handed down, although the first with booster and collective disassociation included.