LSU football has elected to self-impose a number of penalties, including a reduction of eight scholarships and a two-year disassociation from receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde report.
By self-imposing these penalties, LSU is hoping that the NCAA won't add further penalties after a two-year long investigation into the football program. It's been previously reported that the NCAA was investigating improper booster payments made to a former football player's family, according to Dellenger and Forde, as well as the incident involving Beckham, where he was seen handing players money immediately following LSU's 42-25 national championship win over Clemson.
“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 to SI. "We believe these self-imposed penalties are appropriate and we will continue to coordinate and cooperate with the NCAA on this matter.”
The team will sacrifice four scholarships each of the next two years according to SI, though it won't impact the program's ability to sign 25 scholarship players in the 2021 class. LSU is considered among the favorites for a number of high-profile recruits including Maason Smith, Korey Foreman, Sage Ryan, Brian Thomas and Tristan Leigh.
With the 2021 class not expected to be affected by these self-imposed penalties, the more likely course of action means the 2022 and 2023 classes could be the ones impacted. This makes sense, as the NCAA hasn't officially handed down any ruling on either the football or basketball investigations.
It’s also important to note that LSU doesn’t necessarily have to reduce the number of scholarships through recruiting. It just has to be under the 85 scholarship limit by four each of the next two seasons, meaning it could theoretically sign 25 players but eliminate four scholarships currently on the roster.
Whether the NCAA elects to add further penalties to the program remains to be seen. In late August, the NCAA submitted both the football and basketball investigations to the IARP for review. LSU for months wanted the football and basketball investigations to be treated separately to avoid stiffer penalties that could potentially come out, such as "lack of institutional control."
The investigation into the basketball team and coach Will Wade is still ongoing and could continue for another year but the football investigation has been completed, SI reported.
Again, the athletic department is hoping that the self-imposed penalties will be enough and the NCAA won't pile on more penalties. The initial reaction to this news is that LSU believes these penalties warrant the infractions against the football program. This is a massive step taken by the athletic department but the NCAA could easily elect to tack on further penalties considering the severity of the investigation.
A "lack of institutional control" is among the most severe penalties that could be carried out with both investigations stay bundled. SI also reported that the LSU athletic department and the NCAA have worked in cohesion over the past two years at times, the most recent conversation coming in July about potential penalties.
This process is far from over as LSU has now put the ball in the hands of the NCAA.
Story will be updated as more information is provided.