According to footballscoop.com, multiple sources say that USF was “engaged in a campaign to avoid paying [former head coach] Charlie Strong’s near $3 million buyout in order to help with a coronavirus-induced budget crunch.” In the report, it was noted that the school was reaching out to former assistants to see if Strong had allowed any impermissible coaching by graduate assistants and analysts.
However, The Daily Stampede’s Nathan Bond spoke with USF officials shortly after the news broke and learned that the story from Footballscoop.com is inaccurate, and that the inquiry did not originate from the school. Instead, the school is cooperating with the NCAA as their enforcement team is investigating these violations.
The statement released by the Michael Kelly and the school is as follows:
The University of South Florida acknowledges that the NCAA enforcement staff is currently conducting an inquiry to determine whether violations of NCAA legislation occurred with the university’s athletics program. The university is working cooperatively with the NCAA enforcement staff and will continue to do so. In order to protect the integrity of the investigation, the university will provide no details or make further comment at this time.
After Charlie Strong was fired without cause at the end of the 2019 season, it was revealed that the university would pay Strong $2.988 million per the contract of his buyout. Financial questions stirred around the program as they hired a new football coach in Jeff Scott while trying to raise funds for the USF Football Center.
Kelly has said coaches have offered to reduce their salaries during the pandemic to help alleviate some of the financial burden due to the budget shortfall. He said that has not been done yet.