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NCAA puts Chattanooga on probation for major violations

Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) - The NCAA placed Chattanooga on probation for two years, among other penalties, for major violations in its athletics program.

The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions released its public report Thursday after a nearly 19-month inquiry, which began as a result of the school's self-reported violations.

The violations center around impermissible phone calls and text messages, which surfaced during an internal audit of phone records in January 2009.

That month, Chattanooga reported impermissible text messages and phone calls between a former football assistant coach and prospective student-athletes. From September to December 2008, the coach sent about 113 text messages and placed six phone calls to the prospective athletes, and the school self- imposed penalties that included a six-month long recruiting suspension that became indefinite on July 1, 2009.

The findings also prompted the school to audit phone records of all coaching staffs, which led to the discovery of impermissible contact in more sports -- specifically men's basketball, women's basketball and men's tennis.

The audit found the men's basketball program sent about 23 text messages and 61 phone calls to prospective student-athletes between May 2008 and August 2009. Because of that, the school prohibited the whole basketball staff from having any recruiting contacts between November 15, 2009 and March 15, 2010. Other self-imposed penalties included the reduction of permissible recruiters from three to two, and reduction of scholarships for 2010-11 from 13 to 12.

For women's basketball, the audit found that two impermissible phone calls were made in July 2008 by a member of the staff to the father of a prospective player. The university then did not allow the staff any contact with recruits for four weeks.

The men's tennis head coach made three impermissible phone calls in July 2008 to a prospective athlete. The coach also self-reported an impermissible text sent during the same month.

The NCAA terms the violations major because they were grouped together. While some penalties were mostly imposed by Chattanooga, the NCAA handed down others, including the probation, which started Thursday and lasts through September 22, 2012.

The NCAA also penalized the school with public reprimand and censure, and mandated that the school inform prospective football and men's basketball athletes that it is on probation.

09/23 20:26:57 ET