SALT LAKE CITY — An NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions has placed the University of Utah baseball program on probation for one year, running from May 23, 2018 to May 22, 2019.
The action stems from a ruling that head coach Bill Kinneberg failed to promote “an atmosphere of compliance when he instructed his then-director of baseball operations (Connor Lambert) to impermissibly perform coaching duties.”
Besides probation, the NCAA panel accepted self-proposed penalties by Utah that included Kinneberg being suspended for the first 14 games this season. Other sanctions included a reduction in countable athletically related activity (from 20 to 18 hours per week) and a $5,000 fine.
In announcing its ruling, the NCAA panel noted that Kinneberg asked his former director of baseball operations to work with the catchers, throw batting practice and hit balls for fielders. Such involvement caused the Utes to exceed the maximum number of coaches allowed by the NCAA.
The report said that Kinneberg knew the director of operations could not participate in on-field coaching and specifically told his staff to make sure such activity didn’t take place if any administrators stopped by practice. Kinneberg, the NCAA.org report read, “rationalized his decision because he said it helped develop the former director of operations.” The ruling added that Kinneberg “believed that other programs also allowed the same type of impermissible activity and it allowed him to spend more time on other areas during practice.”
Regardless of Kinneberg’s intent, the panel said that his decision to knowingly allow impermissible coaching activity indicated that compliance with rules was not a top priority for the program. The report stated that it gave the Utes the benefit of an extra coach, which gave them an “advantage over other teams that followed the rules.”
A spokesperson from Utah athletics said that the university had nothing to add to earlier comments on the matter.
Kinneberg released a statement in February.
“As the head coach, it is my responsibility to make sure we are in compliance with all NCAA rules," he said. "My oversight was lacking in the area of a non-coaching staff member participating in coaching activities. I accept responsibility and have realigned our staff personnel to ensure it will not happen in the future.”
Utah won the Pac-12 championship in 2016. The Utes are 14-39 this season, including a 6-22 mark in conference play.