Southern Utah Football Hit With Tampering Penalties

Southern Utah committed tampering violations and will face several penalties from head coach DeLane Fitzgerald’s impermissible contact with two athletes still enrolled at other schools. One athlete was contacted prior to entering the transfer portal and later enrolled at SUU. Fitzgerald contacted the other athlete for game film despite not being in the transfer portal and not expressing a desire to transfer.

The NCAA and SUU agreed that Level II violations were committed. As a result, the Thunderbirds will be played on one-year probation, fined $5,000, and prohibited from all football recruiting activities for two weeks during the permissible periods in 2024 with one week already served from April 15 through April 21. For Fitzgerald, he will be suspended one game in the 2024 season, given a two-year show cause order, be banned from off-campus recruiting for two weeks with one to be served during the spring transfer window, and not be involved in recruiting for one week during the 2025 transfer window.

Fitzgerald was hired for the 2022 season by Southern Utah and has gone 11-11 in his two seasons. He began his coaching career at the NAIA’s Southern Virginia Knights from 2009 through 2013 where he went 24-30 overall. He was hired by Frostburg State where he made two NCAA Division III Playoff appearances in his first four years including a quarterfinal appearance in 2017. He helped guide the Bobcats during its reclassification from Division III to Division II starting in 2019. Fitzgerald went 62-19 overall in his 8 seasons with Frostburg State with his only losing season occurring in his first year in 2014.

Southern Utah will start the 2024 season on Thursday, August 29 at Utah. They have a second consecutive FBS opponent the following week at UTEP on Saturday, September 7, and play their first home game on Saturday, September 14 against UC Davis. The Thunderbirds are tentatively scheduled to start its UAC slate on Saturday, September 28 at Austin Peay.

Photo Credit to Southern Utah University Athletics

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