Air Force Under NCAA Investigation For Recruiting Violations During COVID-19 Dead Period

Air Force Under NCAA Investigation For Recruiting Violations During COVID-19 Dead Period article feature image

Rick Dodd/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: An Air Force Falcons helmet.

SCOTTSDALE, AZ — Four former Air Force assistants, including newly-hired Wisconsin linebackers coach Bill Sheridan, violated NCAA rules at Air Force by providing impermissible benefits and hosting high school prospects during the COVID-19 dead period in 2020, sources told Action Network.

Air Force has completed its internal investigation into the recruiting violations and is awaiting the NCAA’s ruling on the penalties. The NCAA doesn’t comment on ongoing investigations.

Sheridan resigned as Wisconsin’s inside linebackers coach on Monday.

“While I look forward to presenting my case at a hearing, I am concerned that the NCAA investigation regarding activities that occurred prior to me joining the Wisconsin football staff could be a distraction which could cause harm to the program,” Sheridan said. “As a result, I am submitting my resignation effective immediately.”

Sheridan, who coached the defensive line at Air Force the past two seasons, assistant defensive line coach Del Cowsette and tight ends coach Jonathan Himebauch were among the Air Force coaches involved in the violations, sources said. All three coaches came to Air Force in 2020. The fourth coach involved could not be confirmed by Action Network.

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Sheridan, 63, was hired as Wisconsin’s linebackers coach on Feb. 22. Himebauch, 46, is now offensive line coach for the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions. It appears Cowsette, 44, is not coaching this season.

Sheridan, a 41-year coaching veteran, has coached at multiple universities and in the NFL as well.

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun apparently was not aware of the violations, a source said.

“Whoever was involved made it clear: ‘Don’t tell Troy (Calhoun) about this,’" a source said. "These were intentional (violations). They knew it was a dead period.”

When Air Force learned of the violations, the school dismissed the coaches, a source said.

Air Force officials issued a statement confirming the NCAA violations reported by Action Network.

“The U.S. Air Force Academy is working with the NCAA in an ongoing self-reported case and we continue to work cooperatively with the NCAA Enforcement staff to bring the matter to a full resolution. Per NCAA rules and procedures, Air Force is unable to comment on any aspect of the ongoing case until it is finished. It is our responsibility to ensure the integrity of the institution, the athletics department, our cadet-athletes and staff.”

Wisconsin also issued a statement regarding Sheridan.

“We are aware of the NCAA investigation involving Bill Sheridan stemming from his time as an assistant coach at Air Force. We have no further comment at this time."

Air Force’s NCAA violations are similar to those that occurred at Arizona State, resulting in multiple recent resignations and firings among ASU’s coaching staff. The Sun Devils also allegedly hosted high school prospects during the COVID-19 dead period and possibly committed other recruiting violations, based on multiple media reports.

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