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NO BIG PENALTIES LEVIED FOR USF'S MINOR RULE VIOLATIONS

USF's athletic department self-reported 13 secondary NCAA violations in the past year, none significant enough to merit a substantial penalty, according to public records the St. Petersburg Times obtained Thursday.

The NCAA defines secondary violations as "isolated and inadvertent," and providing a minor recruiting or competitive advantage.

The men's basketball program was accused in a story on the AOL Fanhouse website in November of numerous violations, and that story "prompted a visit and review by an NCAA enforcement staff member," USF's report said.

USF concluded that one secondary violation occurred. Teams aren't allowed to have more than four players working out together with coaches in the first three weeks of the school year, and because a second group of players was stretching on the court while a first group's instructional session was going on, a violation occurred.

As a self-imposed penalty, USF will give up one week of skilled instruction in August. Players are allowed two hours in a week.

"It's routine for the NCAA to follow up on media reports," athletic department spokesman Mike Hogan said in a statement. "In this situation, like others with the Big East or NCAA, we took a look together and confirmed a minor secondary violation. It was an inadvertent, technical violation that we self-reported to the Big East, and the matter was resolved."

Assistant basketball coach Reggie Hanson was cited for a violation in October. He gave $40 in cash to recruit Pe'Shon Howard for meal reimbursements during an official visit. Recruits can be reimbursed, but coaches can't do it with cash. The penalty was a letter of admonishment.

The football program committed two violations. During two recruiting weekends in January, coach Skip Holtz asked to have plates with recruits' names posted on lockers; that's against NCAA rules. And at an October home game, USF allowed 35 players on unofficial visits on the sideline with three minutes left in the game; recruits are allowed on the field only before or after games.

The penalties were letters of admonishment.

A women's basketball violation is expected to result in a two-game suspension next season of guard Sasha Bernard, a transfer from Indiana. Bernard was not on scholarship in the spring, but an academic adviser thought she was and provided her with $326 in course-related books, an improper benefit for a walk-on. Bernard must give $326 to a charity of her choice to regain her eligibility, and USF self-imposed a two-game suspension as part of its suggested penalty.

Other violations involved soccer, volleyball, softball, golf, track and tennis, none with substantial penalties.

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