PROVO — For months, BYU has been looking into allegations of impermissible benefits provided to football players — a potential violation of NCAA rules.
BYU associate athletic director Duff Tittle confirmed Wednesday the school “has been conducting a thorough review of the matter.”
Rumors of allegations involving the football program first surfaced in April. According to Deseret News sources, the internal review has centered around former director of football operations Duane Busby, who retired March 24.
In April, the Deseret News approached the NCAA to determine if an investigation of the BYU football program was underway. NCAA spokeswoman Emily James replied in an email: “Due to rules put in place by our membership, we cannot comment on pending or potential investigations.”
Deseret News sources allege that certain current and former BYU players have received free housing, gifts and other impermissible benefits.
BYU is expected to self-report its findings to the NCAA soon. The school could apply self-imposed sanctions on its football program — players receiving suspensions, for instance — as part of its review.
Local radio station 1280 The Zone first reported the allegations Wednesday afternoon, basing part of its report of improper benefits on the comments of Sam Leaf, the manager of former BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman, who finished his collegiate career in December.
Leaf told 1280 The Zone that Hoffman had been contacted by BYU officials months ago to answer questions about alleged improper benefits offered to players. Hoffman declined to participate in the inquiry, according to Leaf, because he wanted to focus on preparing for the NFL draft. During an interview with 1280, Leaf noted that Hoffman had not received any improper benefits and when asked if Hoffman knew of others who may have, he replied, “No comment.”
Busby was hired by legendary coach LaVell Edwards at BYU in 1996 and served as Edwards’ administrative assistant for five years. He was named director of football operations in 2001 under Gary Crowton, and Busby served as director of football operations for current coach Bronco Mendenhall the past nine years before abruptly leaving the school.
When announcing Busby’s retirement on March 24, the school's press release stated he was leaving “to pursue other interests.”
BYU replaced Busby by hiring Zach Nyborg in late April. Nyborg, a BYU alum, previously served as the director of football operations at Wisconsin.
A director of football operations is considered the right-hand man of the head coach. He runs the day-to-day operations and finances of the organization, including team travel, and looks out for the academic, social and athletic development of players.
Former BYU players who requested anonymity told the Deseret News Wednesday that Busby developed a close relationship with many players during his time at BYU, adding that he was a trusted friend and confidant to many of them.
Contributing: Tad Walch and Brandon Gurney.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company