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Florida State hit with recruiting violation after booster promises transfer prospect $15K a month NIL deal

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Florida State was hit with a Level II recruiting violation on Thursday after an assistant coach “facilitated an impermissible recruiting contact” between a transfer prospect and a booster, who in turn promised the player an NIL deal worth $15,000 a month, the NCAA announced. 

The coach, who was identified by The Associated Press as offensive coordinator Alex Atkins, was hit with a three-game suspension to start off the 2024 season. The Seminoles football program was also placed on a two-year probation and fined the loss of five football scholarships over the next two seasons and $5,000. 

Alex Atkins stands on the sidelines

Florida State Seminoles offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Alex Atkins speaks during a game between the Boston College Eagles and the Florida State Seminoles on Sept. 16, 2023, at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. (Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“We are pleased to reach closure to this situation and view this as another step in strengthening our culture of compliance at Florida State University,” athletic director Michael Alford said in a statement. 

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“We take all compliance matters very seriously, and our full cooperation with the NCAA on this case is a clear example of that commitment. We remain committed to compliance with all NCAA rules including disassociation of the booster and the collective.”

According to the NCAA, the violation occurred during an official visit to FSU, reportedly in 2022.  

Atkins transported the prospect, identified by the AP as Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims, and his parents to an off-campus meeting with a booster, who was the chief executive officer of an NIL collective that also served as a booster to the program. 

Amarius Mims lines up during a game

Amarius Mims, #65 of the Georgia Bulldogs, in an offensive stance during a game against the Ball State Cardinals at Sanford Stadium on Sept. 9, 2023 in Athens, Georgia. (Brandon Sloter/Image Of Sport/Getty Images)

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“During the meeting, the booster encouraged the prospect to enroll at Florida State and offered him an NIL opportunity with the collective worth approximately $15,000 per month during his first year at the school,” the NCAA explained in a press release. 

“After the meeting, the booster contacted the prospect and the prospect’s mother via text message and/or phone call. Shortly thereafter, the prospect withdrew his name from the Transfer Portal and remained at his previous school. The prospect did not enter into an agreement with the booster or receive any related compensation.” 

The meeting violated several NCAA recruiting rules, prompting a three-year disassociation ban for the booster and a one-year disassociation ban for the collective. Florida State was additionally hit with a reduction in the number of in-person recruiting days for next season and a reduction in official visits. 

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The NCAA also found that Atkins violated conduct rules “when he knowingly provided false or misleading information” during the probe on at least two occasions, which included denying that he had facilitated the meeting. 

A Florida State Seminoles flag

Band members wave Florida State Seminoles flags in the pregame performance before the Camping World Kickoff game between the LSU Tigers and the Florida State Seminoles on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. (Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Atkins was also given a two-year show cause order, which includes a two-week restriction on recruiting communication, and he was restricted from off-campus recruiting in the fall.

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According to the AP, this is the first time the NCAA has punished a school for using name, image and likeness compensation as a recruiting inducement. Head coach Mike Norvell was not found to have any responsibility in the recruiting violations, Florida State said. 

Amarius Mims, a former five-star prospect, entered the transfer portal in April 2022 after winning the national championship with Georgia as a true freshman. He later returned and declared for the NFL draft in December 2023. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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