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UT Still At Mercy Of Kiffin, Orgeron, Reaves

Lane Kiffin loaded up his truck and headed to Beverly (Hills, that is) more than a year ago.  But the University of Tennessee can’t seem to exorcise his ghost from the football program.

In the last couple of weeks, word has leaked out of Knoxville that the NCAA is still digging into the Vol football program for possible violations that took place under Kiffin’s watch.

For several months, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton had passed along word to Vol fans — through the Knoxville media — that the football investigation was concluded.  Only small violations had been discovered, he claimed.

Not so, apparently.  First, the NCAA believes it has dirt proving that UT’s coaches were actively involved in a fall of 2009 recruiting trip taken by a pair of Vol hostesses to South Carolina.  That transgression made national news and sullied UT’s reputation.  If coaches were involved — like Kiffin’s own brother-in-law, former UT quarterbacks coach David Reaves — then the black eye could become a cancer. 

The NCAA is still interviewing Reaves (now at New Mexico), Kiffin and Orgeron (both now at Southern Cal).  If those three try to throw one another under the bus — “He knew what I was doing.” — then it’s likely going to lead to the more serious “failure to monitor” charge that’s already rumored to be headed UT’s way.

In addition, Orgeron is believed to have taken part in an illegal workout of a recruit visiting Tennessee’s campus.  There are rumors (and who would doubt them at this point) that Kiffin’s staff conducted more than one illegal workout.  The NCAA is simply looking for other players to admit that they had been worked out by UT’s coaches.

The NCAA is also digging to see if any other hostess trips were taken to visit any other recruits.

Tennessee’s problems exist on a couple of levels here.  First, the more Kiffin, Oregon and Reaves rat each other out — or try to cut a deal with the NCAA — the more likely dirt tracks back to the Volunteer athletic department.

Second, once the NCAA’s letter of allegations finally arrives, the UT athletic department can’t simply rush a meeting with the NCAA.  If the NCAA charges UT with violations under Kiffin, Oregon and Reaves, all three of those persons will also have to get their days in court, so to speak.

So even if Vol AD Mike Hamilton wanted to respond to the NCAA, defend his school and learn of his final penalties ASAP, the process still might drag out because Kiffin, Orgeron and Reaves will have up to 90 days to respond to the allegations against them.

In other words, Tennessee might not only wind up in the NCAA courthouse because of Kiffin and crew… it might also have its own defense delayed (and possibly undermined) by the same folks. 

It’s doubtful Hamilton, Kiffin, Orgeron and Reaves — who was left behind when the rest of the gang went to LA — will all have a happy chat in order get their stories straight before going before the NCAA.  More likely, they’ll all attempt to pass the buck to one another.  And how do you think the NCAA infractions committee will feel about that?

Bottom line: Tennessee could be facing serious penalties in football, as is already the case in basketball.  And all the problems could trace back to Kiffin, who can still have a negative impact on UT’s NCAA defense, too.

 


6 comments
David
David

Eligibility rulings happen quickly in part because the NCAA simply acts based on whatever information it has from the school in questions in good faith. Auburn said it had nothing on Newton. Eligible.

Those can be reversed (see: Rose, Memphis, Calipari) if someone provides new information that can be documented.

Infractions cases take years because the NCAA has no subpoena power. They have a "take your time and see what shakes out" philosophy in those, especially when the legal system (criminal or civil) has a chance to bring testimony to light that the NCAA might otherwise never see. The USC case wrapped up as soon as Reggie ran out of options to keep depositions sealed, prompting a settlement with Lake instead of public statements under oath.

I'll be amazed if the Kiffin Mafia sells each other out. Not as a matter of family but simply self-preservation. Still, a little SOAP, Kiffin-style, would make for nice off-season theater.

heyberto
heyberto

I hate that the UT fanbase has to endure all this, all because of their douchebag AD... why does he still have a job? Are the fans / boosters / alumni not calling for his ouster yet?

Golfer Drew
Golfer Drew

The NCAA operates on its own schedule. When faced with ballgame deadline -- Cam Newton, the Buckeye Five -- the NCAA can speed things up. When not faced with a deadline, it can stretch things out for years (see: Southern Cal).

But here are the facts we do know:

1. The NCAA has not yet closed its investigation, though many had believed that to be the case.

That applies to the NCAA investigation into Newton as well at AU. That has not been closed either.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

Golfer Drew...

Correct, but I'm not sure I follow where you're going with this one.

Cam Newton was ruled eligible prior to Auburn's final two ballgames, but the investigation into AU goes on. Tennessee's players and coaches (in the case of basketball) are continuing to play/coach as well... while the investigation into UT continues.

The Newton and UT cases could technically stretch on for years... like USC. We knew already that Auburn was still being investigated. However, many Tennessee fans were under the impression that the NCAA's sleuthing was complete and all that remained was the transfer of the official letter of allegations. Not so, it turns out. The NCAA still appears to be doing some digging. That might stop tomorrow, but the Vol athletic department had been saying since December that they believed the NCAA's investigation was either wrapped up or close to wrapping up. Instead, the NCAA has still be asking questions of Kiffin, Orgeron and Reaves.

John

dreed
dreed

When do you expect the allegations to come out? What can be expected in terms of punishment? I have read a lot things and heard a lot of rumors. I hope that I speak for a lot of people when I say that I ready to get past the realm of rumors and into hard facts. Then, deal with the situation and move on from it. Even though, this is only the beginning.

johnmrsec
johnmrsec

dreed...

The NCAA operates on its own schedule. When faced with ballgame deadline -- Cam Newton, the Buckeye Five -- the NCAA can speed things up. When not faced with a deadline, it can stretch things out for years (see: Southern Cal).

But here are the facts we do know:

1. The NCAA has not yet closed its investigation, though many had believed that to be the case.

2. The longer the case drags out, the worse things look for Tennessee and the more people inside the UT athletic department worry.

3. No matter what the NCAA tells Tennessee, the appeals/responses of Kiffin, Orgeron and Reaves could slow down and impact Tennessee's own appeal.

Thanks for reading,
John

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