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NCAA investigation into ASU football reportedly underway

The Sun Devils are being investigated for possible recruiting violations during the fallow period that occurred last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TEMPE, Ariz. — The NCAA has begun conducting interviews for their investigation into the Arizona State football program, according to CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd

In June, reports broke that the program was being investigated for allegedly hosting recruits on campus during a time when teams weren't supposed to be having in-person meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“ASU can confirm the NCAA is conducting an investigation regarding allegations related to our football program," confirmed Katie Paquet, vice president of the university's media relations and strategic communications. "In accordance with NCAA bylaws, the university cannot provide further comment at this time.”

In 2020, the NCAA paused in-person recruiting visits on campuses due to the pandemic. That rule expired at the end of May. 

The rule was put in place for all college teams, as a way to keep people distanced from each other, but to also even the playing field at a time when college sports was shrouded by the pandemic's uncertainty.  

In June, a report from Yahoo Sports said compliance investigators had already collected an evidence dossier full of screenshots, receipts, emails, and pictures connected to numerous potential violations.

Three ASU assistant coaches -- Adam Breneman, Prentice Gill, and Chris Hawkins -- have been put on administrative leave due to the investigation.  

Breneman was the Sun Devils' tight ends coach. He has been replaced by Juston Wood. 

Gill was the Sun Devils' wide receivers coach. He has been replaced by graduate assistant Bobby Wade.  

Hawkins was the Sun Devils' defensive backs coach. He has been replaced by Donnie Henderson, who coached at ASU in the 1990s and was ASU head coach Herm Edwards' defensive coordinator when Edwards was the head coach of the New York Jets from 2004 to 2005.

The investigation will likely take several more months before its findings are sent to the NCAA Committee of Infractions, where the NCAA will decide whether or not to issue penalties. 

When asked about the investigation on Sunday, ASU's first-year defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce refused to comment but did say the coaching staff has a "next man up" mentality. 

"It's what Coach Edwards has always been about: next man up," Pierce said. "That's the NFL mentality, that's the pro model. Next man up. Be ready. No coach or analyst or GA that's in our building is not there just to sit there. They're waiting for their opportunity and when it's been called they have stepped up. They've done a good job. 

"Obviously Donnie (Henderson), on the defensive side of the ball, I'm learning from him. He's been a coordinator longer than I've ever... even probably played football and coached combined. So I can't have enough experience or knowledge around me. That's really important for me. Having Marvin Lewis still in the room is very critical to our team and our success," Pierce said.

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