The South Australian Cricket Association has been hit with a $50,000 fine for entering into agreements with three players, including ex-Test batsman Brad Hodge and West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard, outside the Big Bash League contracting period.
While $20,000 of that penalty has been suspended for three years, the investigation by Cricket Australia's Integrity Unit has already claimed the scalp of the SACA's High Performance Manager Jamie Cox who was sacked by the Association last month for his role in the recruitment activities.
Under the findings of that investigation announced by Cricket Australia this morning, the SACA has been suspended from using Cox's services in any capacity relating to the Adelaide Strikers until the end of the coming (2014-15) season.
The investigation found that the SACA entered into agreements with Hodge, Pollard and hard-hitting Canberra batsman Jono Dean during the BBL contracting embargo period which ran from February 7 this year until May 19.
During that time, BBL franchises were allowed to undertake non-binding discussions with potential signings but were not permitted to enter into formal agreements including the renewal of existing contracts.
Hodge's name was linked with the Strikers as early as February this year, and the franchise announced last month it had re-signed Dean who played for Adelaide in last year's BBL.
Pollard was a member of the Adelaide-based squad from 2009 to 2012 but he has yet to announce his intentions for the coming BBL summer.
“Cricket Australia’s findings do not impact our current negotiations with the relevant players and we hope to be able announce the outcomes of those negotiations very soon,” SACA Chief Executive, Keith Bradshaw said in response to the penalty.
The investigation, launched last month by CA's Integrity Unit with co-operation from the SACA, found the approaches made to Hodge, Pollard and Dean were inconsistent with the guidelines set out for 'non-binding discussions' within the BBL Player Contracting and Remuneration Guidelines.
It was ruled that the SACA be fined $20,000 for each of the breaches related to Pollard and Dean, and $10,000 for the dealings related to Hodge.
The suspended $20,000 portion of the fine will be payable if SACA is found guilty of any further breaches of the guidelines over the next three years.
"SACA has been found to have breached the BBL Player Contracting and Remuneration Guidelines," CA's Senior Manager – Integrity, Iain Roy, said today.
"We view contraventions of our competition rules seriously and the penalties handed down reflect this.
"Cricket Australia is committed to ensuring the contracting rules for all of CA's competitions are adhered to at all times.
"We acknowledge SACA's co-operation during the course of the Unit's investigation."
Cox, the former Australian selector who was appointed High Performance Manager in 2008, was sacked for failing to comply with the Association's code of conduct after inquiries from the Integrity Unit led the SACA to conduct its own investigation.
It followed warnings issued to a number of SACA staff the previous year when the Association was fined $15,000 for making "improper" approaches to budding Australian leg spinner James Muirhead to try and lure him to Adelaide from Melbourne.