Head coach of Morgan State University’s softball team violates multiple NCAA rules, faces two years of probation and other penalties

After an investigation concluded June 30, 2023, the head coach was discovered to have conducted unofficial tryouts with prospective candidates of the team, leading to various sanctions from the association.

Lake Marion, Co-Sports Editor

Morgan State University softball coach Larry Hineline is found to have committed NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association) violations after conducting impermissible tryouts with four prospective student-athletes, also violating “head coach responsibility rules”, according to the organization’s website. 

Hineline and the softball coaching staff conducted the tryouts during the four prospects’ unofficial visits to Morgan State. According to the NCAA, a total of five unsanctioned tryouts occurred with four prospects over the course of one year. He also involved several student-athletes in the tryouts as well as a former student-athlete who no longer attends Morgan.

Initial potential violations were reported by a former assistant softball coach on Oct. 21, 2021 during a call to the NCAA Eligibility Center, who then filed a separate report the following month alerting the NCAA’s enforcement staff of the head coach’s recruitment violations.

The university was notified of the infringements in May 2022.

It was discovered that Hineline arranged at least two meetings with a prospect at an off-campus facility in Baltimore where he pitched to individuals, including another student-athlete. He also directed a second prospect to field ground balls and throw to a student-athlete during an unofficial visit.

On yet another occasion, a member of the softball coaching staff invited a third prospect to join a team infield-outfield session to field fly balls. The fourth prospect pitched to another student-athlete.

All of these activities violated the NCAA rules since Hineline and his staff conducted the drills and observed the prospects showcasing their abilities, which was met with Level II standard penalties. The investigation concluded June 30, 2023.

The penalties are as follows:

  • Two years of probation.
  • A $5,000 fine.
  • A one-year show-cause order-during that period, Morgan State or any NCAA member school employing the head coach must prohibit him from all recruiting communication, off-campus recruiting, and evaluations for four weeks in July 2023, and require him to attend an NCAA Regional Rules Seminar at his own expense.
  • Suspension from the first five games (10% of the regular season) during the first season of the show-cause period.
  • A maximum of 10 combined official and unofficial visits to the softball program during the 2023 – 2024 academic year.
  • Prohibited from recruiting communication, off-campus recruiting, and softball evaluations for four weeks in July 2023, which will run concurrently with the head coach’s relevant show-cause terms should he remain employed at Morgan State.
  • A 10-year disassociation from a former softball student-athlete who would not comply with the NCAA’s investigation (self-imposed by the school).

When contacted for comment on the results of the sanctions, Hineline declined to speak with The Spokesman.

According to Morgan State Athletic Director Dena Freeman-Patton, Hineline “will still be employed at the university.” He will remain head coach for the Bears softball team this upcoming season. 

“There are some recruiting restrictions for Hineline for the month of July,” said Freeman-Patton. “They added that ‘show cause’, so if he decided to leave on his own, that would follow him. There’s also other restrictions that he has and our program will be on probation for the next two years because of that.” 

The Bears softball team won’t need to look for another coach this off-season with Hineline’s job being secured.

“He will remain our softball coach going into next season,” said Freeman-Patton. 

This story was updated July 18, 2023.