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NCAA inquiry into USF football focuses on Charlie Strong era

The inquiry reportedly centers on a possible misuse of football staffers.
Charlie Strong was dismissed as USF football coach last December after losing 14 of his final 18 games.
Charlie Strong was dismissed as USF football coach last December after losing 14 of his final 18 games. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Jun. 18, 2020
Updated Jun. 18, 2020

The USF football program is the subject of an ongoing NCAA inquiry stemming from the Charlie Strong era, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

In a statement released Thursday, athletic director Michael Kelly confirmed the inquiry but didn’t offer specifics.

“The University of South Florida acknowledges that the NCAA enforcement staff is currently conducting an inquiry to determine whether violations of NCAA legislation occurred with the university’s athletics program,” Kelly said.

“The university is working cooperatively with the NCAA enforcement staff and will continue to do so. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, the university will provide no details or make further comment at this time.”

FootballScoop, citing anonymous sources, reported earlier Thursday that USF is interviewing former Strong staffers to see if Strong knowingly permitted any analysts or quality control personnel to conduct impermissible hands-on coaching.

But the Times has learned the inquiry was not initiated by USF.

Strong was dismissed last December after a 4-8 season that capped a 4-14 skid dating to October 2018. USF agreed to pay Strong approximately $3.1 million as a result of a “supplemental compensation” agreement with the school’s private fundraising arm.

Related: USF owes Charlie Strong $3.1 million, per termination letter

The FootballScoop sources, according to its report, felt USF is engaging in an after-the-fact attempt to avoid paying Strong’s buyout. Kelly said the university “continues to abide by the terms of its agreement with Mr. Strong.”

Strong didn’t immediately respond to a text message Thursday.