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Tennessee Investigation: The Latest

From a news perspective, here’s the latest on the NCAA’s investigation into Tennessee’s recruiting practices:

1.  For those living under a rock, the NCAA is specifically looking at Tennessee’s use of hostesses in recruiting.

2.  If the coaching staff was aware of, encouraged, or provided money for UT hostesses to recruit off-campus, this could result in major penalties.  (That’s a big if.)

3.  The New York Times reports that the NCAA’s investigation is stretching to Pahokee, Florida… the town/school that Lane Kiffin insulted last February and later apologized to.

4.  Having pretty hostesses is not a new concept.  Everybody does it.  The new angle here is that UT’s hostesses went off campus to try to recruit.  Also, thanks to a sex scandal at Colorado and years of rumors, these hostess programs don’t always have a good name.

5.  The father of one UT commitment (who was visited by the hostesses) says that Tennessee coaches did not ask the girls to drive to Duncan, South Carolina. 

6.  A South Carolina recruiting expert doesn’t believe anything that happened was against the rules.

7.  John Adams of The Knoxville News Sentinel writes that there’s no reason to panic over what will probably be a secondary violation.  But he also points out that UT has been dealing with a lot of negative headlines over the past month.

8.  Joe Biddle of The Tennessean writes that because of his comments, rival coaches would love to help the NCAA find violations in Kiffin’s program.  (Think Urban Meyer has forgotten Kiffin’s public comments claiming that Florida’s coach had cheated… when he hadn’t?)

The Good:

* The father of commitment Corey Miller suggests that his son has a relationship — of some sort — with one of the hostesses.  He also said that there were only two hostesses involved.  That’s a big plus for Tennessee because believing two girls acted on their own is a lot easier than believing five or six girls acted on their own.

* Recruiting expert Phil Kornblut said, “Of course, they are going to investigate, because things like that happen.  But, the things that happened, none of that was illegal.”  He is the first person to say — that in his view — there were no rules violations committed.  (I’m not sure about that one because hostesses are viewed as school representatives.  Just as a former player like Peyton Manning cannot visit a prospect, other school reps aren’t supposed to recruit off-campus, either.  And holding up a sign saying, “Come to Tennessee,” is recruiting.)

The Bad:

* This scandal has an air of sex about it.  That means it will draw more eyeballs.  (On the heels of an attempted armed robbery, Vol fans must be wondering why their team can’t just have a run-of-the-mill barfight anymore.)

 *Any time the NCAA starts snooping around in one area, they might uncover something else in another.  Were hostesses at the center of the NCAA’s completed talks with four recruits (with two more possibly on the schedule)?  Tennessee should hope so.  Overall, fans should think of the NCAA as Kenneth Starr.  Charged to look into the Whitewater business deal, Starr dug and dug until he came up with a semen-stained dress that had nothing to do with his initial assignment.  The NCAA has those same kind of powers.  Which is why most schools/coaches want to stay on their good side.

* The fact that the NCAA is taking the unusual step of investigating the recruitment of POTENTIAL players is probably not a good sign.  Usually, players are inked and on campus before probes like this begin.  It might be nothing, but it does seem that the NCAA’s interest has been piqued.

* Vol fans believe this is a witch hunt (much like Alabama and Florida State fans have recently said of their own NCAA entanglements), but that doesn’t matter.  If the NCAA is coming after Tennessee because of Kiffin’s brash comments and six previous secondary violations, it still traces back to the UT coach who DID make the comments and DID commit the violations.  It’s one thing for fans to say, “I don’t care who likes our coach.”  They just need to remember saying that when their coaches’ enemies start targeting him.

The Verdict:

* Tennessee will say that their coaches had no knowledge of the hostesses’ trip.  If there were only two girls involved, that’s a lot more believable.  The hostesses will probably be booted from the Orange Pride program.  The NCAA will probably hand down another secondary violation.  UT will then need to hope that this secondary violation doesn’t break the proverbial camel’s back… and that the NCAA doesn’t uncover anything else in their talks.  Especially in Pahokee, Florida. 

Not only did Kiffin make ugly comments about the town and the school, but he also quickly dismissed Pahokee-native Nu’Keese Richardson from his team while allowing Janzen Jackson to stay on after an attempted armed robbery.  (Charges were dropped against Jackson, not against Richardson.)  But right or wrong, folks in Pahokee will probably circle ’round their own.  The same way fans circle around their teams and their coaches.  If there’s any big dirt to come out of all this, I’ll bet right now that it winds up coming from Pahokee.



  1. [...] the  latest on the Tennessee and LSU investigations? Find out at [...]

  2. [...] has a roundup of reports about the NCAA’s investigation of Tennessee’s football program, growing out of some of the Orange Pride hostesses making an apparently illegal off-campus recruiting trip. [...]

  3. [...] Tennessee Investigation: The Latest – 12/11/09 | [...]

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