Raiders’ Antonio Pierce will not be part of Arizona State’s negotiated resolution with NCAA as case nears end

Las Vegas Raiders coach Antonio Pierce will not be part of the negotiated resolution between the NCAA and Arizona State tied to the almost-three-year-old case that’s nearing a conclusion, sources told CBS Sports.

Pierce isn’t necessarily exonerated in the case. He’s not compelled to sit for an in-person interview with NCAA investigators looking into alleged major recruiting violations at the school, but instead, sources told CBS Sports that Pierce will be submitting a written statement to NCAA. After the statement is reviewed and compared to the NCAA’s findings, Pierce could then be penalized. Pierce’s cooperation with the NCAA is not required because he is no longer in college athletics. 

Sources previously told CBS Sports the negotiated resolution, which is expected to be made official in the near future, contains a show-cause penalty for former Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards. Pierce, considered a central figure in the recruiting scandal, could receive a similar penalty. 

A show-cause penalty means a school could be subject to sanctions if it hires a coach during the length of that punishment. Neither Pierce nor Edwards are expected to return to college football anytime soon, however. 

This is essentially the NCAA’s scarlet letter in preventing accused coaches from getting jobs. Show-cause penalties were recently strengthened at the NCAA’s annual convention in January.

CBS Sports reported in February that Arizona State was expected to agree to major violations in the negotiated resolution process. The case began when the ASU staff allegedly entertained recruits on campus during the COVID-19 dead period, which was in violation of NCAA rules. Further postseason penalties are not expected after the school self-imposed a one-year bowl ban in August 2023 in an attempt to mitigate future punishment. 

A negotiated resolution occurs when schools, involved persons and NCAA enforcement agree to “violation, level, classification and penalties,” according to the association. The process uses fewer resources and expedites cases. Any final penalties are approved by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. 

Pierce, a former Arizona linebacker, was a valued ASU assistant from 2018-21. He was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2020 and resigned prior to the 2022 season. 

The alleged violations came to light in 2021 when a dossier of information was sent to Arizona State and NCAA compliance. Edwards reportedly met with several prospects, including some in 2020, at a rented off-campus home in the swanky Paradise Valley area. 

It is not clear whether any sanctions would follow Pierce to the NFL. 

Edwards, back at his old job as an NFL analyst with ESPN, could also be subject to punishment under the NCAA’s head coach responsibility bylaw. Though the bylaw was strengthened on Jan. 1, 2023, Edwards would be subject to previous language, that existed when the ASU investigation began, stating coaches are “presumed to be responsible” for the actions of their staff.

Pierce was among five assistants who resigned or were fired after the allegations surfaced. Other Arizona State assistants reportedly cooperated with the NCAA hoping to mitigate penalties.

The Arizona State case is believed to be “bifurcated” — a newly adopted method where resolution can be reached with individuals and/or schools within a larger case.  

Air Force, Tennessee and Memphis recently had cases resolved through bifurcation. Arizona State self-imposed the postseason ban while former assistant coaches were still going through a traditional investigation.

Michigan and former coach Jim Harbaugh were seemingly on a bifurcated track when they agreed to what was described as a “tentative resolution” that resulted in a four-game suspension for Harbaugh to start the 2023 season. In the ongoing case, Harbaugh is alleged to have lied to NCAA investigators about Level II violations regarding recruiting visits during the pandemic.

Michigan is also being investigated for possible wrongdoing in the celebrated sign-stealing case as well. 


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