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Report: NCAA Digging Deeper Into Kiffin’s Year At UT

Just a couple of months ago, the Tennessee athletic department got the news it had been hoping for when the NCAA accepted its self-imposed sanctions and decided not pile on more penalties.

So much for sighing with relief.

Yahoo! Sports reported last night that former Tennessee assistant coach Willie Mack Garza wired $1,500 to street-agent Willie Lyles in order to fund an unofficial recruiting trip by Lache Seastrunk and his mother in 2009.

As you likely know, Seastrunk and Lyles are at the center of Oregon’s current NCAA mess.  LSU coaches have also been questioned about their connections to Lyles.

Garza — the coach in question — left Tennessee with Lane Kiffin just one year after arriving in Knoxville.  Just prior to the start of this season, Garza resigned his position on Southern Cal’s staff saying that he had “some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address.”

Those issues apparently relate to Tennessee instead of Southern Cal.

Lyles used the money allegedly sent to him by Garza to pay for plane tickets from Texas to Knoxville for both Seastrunk and his mother.  Lyles informed the NCAA of the payment last month.

And here’s the worrisome part for Tennessee — Lyles also told Yahoo! Sports that NCAA investigators were conducting a wide-ranging look into Tennessee recruiting practices.

“We are aware of the situation as is the conference office,” a UT spokesperson said.  “We’ve been verbally contacted by the NCAA enforcement staff regarding a recruiting issue in 2009 related to the former coaching staff and a student-athlete who never attended Tennessee.  We believe, as does the conference office, that this matter is not subject to the repeat offender provision.”

Judging from recent NCAA rulings — including those at UT this summer — it’s certainly possible that Garza or any other coaches involved in illegal recruiting activities would be punished more harshly than the school.  Especially since those coaches are two years removed from Tennessee and the NCAA has already conducted one investigation into their actions.

However, as we say in every one of these cases… when the NCAA arrives on your campus, it’s never a good thing.  There’s absolutely no telling where an investigation can lead.

This has to be particularly troubling for Derek Dooley.  The second-year Volunteer coach admitted this summer that recruits had been worried about the black cloud hanging over the UT program since his arrival.  Now, just as it appeared that cloud had dissipated, a new one has blown in.

One has to wonder if Tennessee will ever finish paying for the hire of Kiffin.

 


18 comments
Mike
Mike

(cont.) as far as intent and depth of any investigation into any program. The sky is falling, the sky is falling.

Mike
Mike

"And here’s the worrisome part for Tennessee — Lyles also told Yahoo! Sports that NCAA investigators were conducting a wide-ranging look into Tennessee recruiting practices" Yeah, right......like the NCAA enforcement has told Lyles what their doing. They have not told this scum bag anything about their intentions as far as

roger
roger

Maybe Dooley can get the Ole Miss job... or if things keep going south in Athens, maybe he can get his dad to get him an interview at UGA

Jake
Jake

Or maybe he can stay at UT. DD is the man

UofA72
UofA72

Kiffin's name ws one being thrown around at Arkansas. Fortunately for us, we got Petrino instead. Butch Davis had been on that list the year before Houston Nutt left, but he took North Carolina rather than wait. Two bullets dodged.

John
John

I don't see UT getting hammered on this, assuming it's true. The NCAA people know Kiffin is a rogue, and that's why UT got a slap on the wrist during the first round of Kiffin-related investigations. Kiffin is poison, and as USC continues to flounder under the weight of sanctions over the next couple of years they will have to fire him. At that point he should be untouchable, and I hope he never works again. Pure poison. Thanks again, Mike Hamilton. You were an outstanding AD.

viciousdawg
viciousdawg

Just when Dooley thought he was turning things around something else hits again.

Jass
Jass

Coaches paying recruits is a major violation. What's worse is that there is a clear connection between UT football and Wily Lyles. And it's extremely unlikely this was a one time thing. What other recruits did UT give money to through Lyles? One more, two more, ten?

You like in Knoxville, John, how about some investigative journalism?

Kris Kepley
Kris Kepley

Good thing is it was done by coaches who aren't here, hired by an administration that isn't here anymore, and a player that never played here. Repeat offender status won't apply since it happened prior. I think we are going to be ok.. Kiffin is just the gift that keeps on giving.

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

The best news is UT is already working with the SEC and NCAA on this matter - before Yahoo Sports published the article. Why is that important? It shows that UT has institutional control and was on top of the matter. That when it was discovered - we did not try and hide it. Hiding this junk is what brings down the NCAA hammer on a school, not the actual crime. Since the kid never enrolled, then we are not subject to vacanting the few victories that we have over the past couple of years. The question will be who knew what, when and where. That question will be falling on the head coach at the time - Kiffin. The NCAA is showing that they are more willing to go after the actual rule breakers than the programs as long as the programs are showing that they are doing everything reasonly possible to police the program. Which UT has already established over the past couple of years that the inforcement staff is doing their job at or above NCAA guidelines.

roger
roger

very true HoustonVol

all those tattoos at Ohio State wouldn't have been that big a deal if Tressell had not tried to cover it up

they usually make you pay back the benefit, and sit out for 2-4 games

trouble comes with the cover up

HoustonVol
HoustonVol

Or something closer to home - Pearl would have had just a slap on the wrist if he had not lied and tried to cover up the whole BBQ mess. He got banned for 3 years (and was lucky it was not more) and UT basically got a slap on the wrist.

The NCAA is learning that the programs fund the NCAA and you don't cut the hand that feeds you. Also crippling a program actually causes harm to the school itself and takes money away from academics - which runs counter to the NCAA mission. So the NCAA is going after coaches. There is only so much monitoring the schools can do. They are not allowed to lock up the kids and video tape the coaches 24 hours a day. So they hit the people that make the bad decisions - hard. I think it will be more effective long term at controlling programs than allowing a coach to see another day at another school and crippling the old program.

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

Good point. Anybody think this will get linked back to Kiffin?

rmft
rmft

i sure hope so

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

"One has to wonder if Tennessee will ever finish paying for the hire of Kiffin." Amen. The depth of his depravity is astounding. He's relatively unscathed at this point, but my guess is it will all catch up to him one day - if not by evidence, then by pure reputation. USC doesn't want someone with a lowlife reputation and an awful coaching record to stay there for long. He's the "tweener" during the probation years at USC, and his days are already numbered.

As for Tennessee, I doubt this will turn into anything huge, but (1) as you say, dealing with the NCAA is never a good thing, and (2) TN really needs to remove all dark clouds like this for recruiting purposes.

Vol Guest
Vol Guest

Also, the best thing to happen to Tennessee over the past several years might be the fact that the Seattle Seahawks fired Jim Mora back in early 2010. That started the chain of events that got Kiffin to USC, which couldn't have been better for TN (unless it had happened sooner).

roger
roger

its like coming home for kiffin... he and coach O were involved in the recruitment of reggie bush, now he gets to coach a program on probation...

i hope he gets hit with personal penalties instead of them lumping more on Tennessee... I mean he was only on campus for 15 months

CFB_Fan
CFB_Fan

There should be a way for schools to sue the crap out of coaches that have done what Kiffen did and then split.



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