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Texas hit with probation

By John Manuel
November 7, 2002

Six weeks after a trip to the White House to celebrate its College World Series championship, Texas' baseball program was slapped with two years of probation for what the NCAA termed a major infraction.

The probation does not prohibit the Longhorns from postseason play, but does prohibit head coach Augie Garrido from off-campus recruiting until next August, restricts recruiting to one coach (rather than two) on the road until that time, and docks the program one scholarship for 2003-2004.

Texas' infraction involved Trip Couch, who left his job as Houston's top assistant and recruiting coordinator in January 2001 for a position as a volunteer assistant with the Longhorns. Couch had a $40,000 public relations/marketing job set up by Garrido at Centex Beverage, a beer distributorship owned by former UT regent Lowell Lebermann.

However, the NCAA determined Couch did little work for Centex and instead devoted all his time to Texas baseball, making 27 recruiting trips in place of Garrido, who got a medical waiver for Couch to replace him on the road. Couch resigned in Oct. 2001amid an NCAA inquiry.

NCAA rules prohibit volunteer coaches from being on an athletic department's payroll or receiving preferential treatment in an outside job arranged by the department. They are allowed to have jobs but must do the work they're paid for.

Texas was mulling an appeal to the penalty, perhaps to reduce the infraction from "major" to "secondary." As it stands, one more major infraction in the next five years could subject the Longhorns to the NCAA's "death penalty," which has happened only once before, to Southern Methodist's football program. Texas' football program previously was on probation in 1965, 1982 and 1987.

"We felt it was a secondary violation and still do," Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said. "We did violate a rule and we're big folks. This is a wakeup call for everybody to find out what their coaches are doing. We're going to make some corrections.''

Garrido said he was disappointed by the sanctions.

"We did everything we thought we should and they said it was a violation,'' Garrido said. "My understanding was to stay out of what they were doing at that job.''

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