Source: LSU to ban OBJ 2 years over payments

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LSU has self-imposed penalties related to the NCAA’s investigation into improper booster payments to its football players, a university spokesman confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Sports Illustrated reported that the Tigers will lose eight scholarships over two years, will reduce recruiting visits, evaluations, and communication, and have banned Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from its football facilities for two years.

“LSU has worked proactively and in cooperation with the NCAA to identify and self-report any violations that occurred within our football program,” Robert Munson, LSU Senior Associate Athletic Director, said in the statement. “We believe these self-imposed penalties are appropriate and we will continue to coordinate and cooperate with the NCAA on this matter.”

A source confirmed the details in the Sports Illustrated report regarding the specific self-imposed penalties.

The football allegations are part of a wider NCAA investigation into LSU, which has dragged on for three years.

In a document released to ESPN by the university in August, NCAA vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan wrote that LSU men’s basketball coach Will Wade either arranged for or offered “impermissible payments” to at least 11 potential recruits or others around them.

Duncan wrote that the NCAA’s enforcement staff received information that Wade “arranged for, offered and/or provided impermissible payments, including cash payments, to at least 11 men’s basketball prospective student-athletes, their family members, individuals associated with the prospects and/or nonscholastic coaches in exchange for the prospects’ enrollment at LSU.”

The allegations were included in the NCAA enforcement staff’s request that its infractions case involving the LSU men’s basketball and football programs be adjudicated through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which was created to handle complex cases. LSU was hoping to adjudicate the football case through the traditional NCAA infractions process.

The most serious allegation related to LSU’s football program involves booster John Paul Funes, a former CEO of a hospital foundation whom the enforcement staff accused of “providing funds to the families of current and former student-athletes, arranging for members of the institution’s football staff to use a private plane and offering internships to football student-athletes.”

The NCAA enforcement staff confirmed that Funes “arranged employment beginning in 2012 for the parents of a then football student-athlete and paid the father $180,000 during 2012-17 for a no-show job.”

The father, who was identified as “Individual C” in a federal indictment, is the father of former LSU offensive lineman Vadal Alexander, sources previously told ESPN.

Alexander was a four-year starter for the Tigers from 2012 to 2015. His father, James Alexander, is a self-employed entrepreneur in Atlanta.

In October, Funes pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $500,000 from the hospital foundation and giving some of the money to the parents of two former LSU players. He was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison.

LSU was notified of the allegations by the hospital in November 2018, and former university president F. King Alexander and former athletics director Joe Alleva informed the NCAA of the matter the same day, according to the school’s attorneys.

LSU’s football program is also charged with a Level III violation involving Beckham Jr., a former Tigers star, who gave $2,000 in cash to four Tigers football players on the field after the team’s 42-25 victory over Clemson in the CFP National Championship on Jan. 13.

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