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Tennessee football program cited for recruiting violations

A former University of Tennessee assistant football coach knowingly worked with a booster to provide impermissible travel and lodging to a prospective student-athlete, according to findings by the Division I Committee on Infractions. The former coach was also cited for unethical conduct for his role in the violations.

Penalties in this case include a reduction of evaluation days, official visit limitations and restrictions on football tickets during unofficial visits for the university, a two-year extension in the probationary period imposed in a prior case involving the university heard by the committee in 2011 and a three-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. As a result, the former assistant coach cannot conduct recruiting activities during this time.

This case was resolved through the summary disposition process, a cooperative effort where the involved parties collectively submit the case to the Committee on Infractions in written form. The NCAA enforcement staff, university and involved individuals must agree to use the summary disposition process instead of having a formal hearing.
During the spring of 2009, the former assistant coach developed a relationship with the booster because the football program subscribed to his scouting service. When the former assistant coach became aware of the booster’s relationship with a prospective student-athlete, the former assistant coach began discussing the prospect’s interest in visiting and attending the university. With the understanding that the former assistant coach would reimburse him, the booster then purchased airline tickets for the prospect and his mother to travel to the university for an unofficial visit. Once in Knoxville, the former assistant coach also provided impermissible travel and lodging to the prospect and his mother.

According to the committee’s report, the former assistant coach was aware that the travel and lodging provided to the prospect for his unofficial visit were impermissible, which constituted unethical conduct. The former assistant coach also acted unethically by failing to disclose his involvement in the visit during earlier interviews with NCAA enforcement staff and the university.  
The committee noted that the impermissible activity by the former assistant coach overlapped in time and is imbedded in the context of football violations found in the committee decision issued in August 2011. In the previous infractions case, the committee stated it was “troubled by the number and nature of the secondary infractions by the football coaching staff during its one-year tenure at the institution.” The case included 12 secondary violations over ten months, all of which were related to recruiting.

Because the additional impermissible recruiting activity had not yet been discovered and presented to the committee in the earlier case, the committee notes it did not have a complete picture regarding the violations that were occurring in the football program at that time. The university is not considered a repeat violator because the infractions occurred prior to the previous committee decision.

The penalties include:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • A two-year extension of the probation period imposed in the August 2011 report from August 24, 2013 through August 23, 2015.
  • Three-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. The public report contains further details.
  • The current football staff is limited to hosting 47 official visits for the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Reduction of evaluation days by four (from 168 to 164) by the current football staff during the spring 2012 evaluation period.
  • For football unofficial visits during the fall of 2013, no complimentary tickets may be provided to visiting prospective student-athletes for the first two conference games of the season.

The members of the Division I Committee on Infractions who reviewed this case include Britton Banowsky, chair of the Committee on Infractions and commissioner of Conference USA; John Black, attorney; Brian Halloran, attorney; Eleanor Myers, faculty athletics representative and law professor at Temple University; Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto, faculty athletics representative and the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska College of Law; and Jerry Parkinson, the William T. Schwartz Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming.