Blog Entry

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

Posted on: February 23, 2011 1:30 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 10:42 am
What does it take these days to get lack of institutional control?

We may be about to find out. Connecticut basketball didn't get it on Tuesday. Tennessee's basketball coach went so far off the reservation in lying to the NCAA that he needed a sherpa to get back. Tennessee's former football coach, already allegedly a serial secondary violator, got more thrown at him Wednesday when the NCAA's notice of allegations finally came out.

Bruce Pearl lied. Lane Kiffin pushed the envelope ... off the table all the way into the paper shredder. All we get is "failure to monitor" and "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance". If Jim Calhoun didn't blink after being suspended for three games next season consider the Vols. After 22 months of an NCAA proctology exam, Wednesday read a lot like a net win for Tennessee.

Major violations? Sure. It's conceivable that Ol' Mr. Unethical Conduct himself, Pearl, could be suspended for a year. He could also still return after that year which, you have to admit, would be a plus for the Tennessee basketball program considering his winning percentage. Outlandish? About as outlandish as how Tennessee got to this place meaning anything is possible. Assistant Tony Jones did all right (5-3) in Pearl's absence.

Kiffin has taken his act to USC where the penalties could follow. So how bad can it get? If you're Tennessee, it's damn embarrassing if a) the basketball coach gets suspended and b) if he comes back. For football, figure it will be nothing more than a slap on the wrist -- some recruiting visits, maybe some scholarships. 

That's what staying away from the dreaded lack of institutional control gets you. That designation from the NCAA is about as bad as it gets in these cases and indicates "a systematic breakdown in compliance," according to an association spokesman. Having it on their record keeps coaches and administrators from getting better jobs. The last two BCS schools to get slapped with institutional control were Arizona State baseball in December and USC football in June. Both schools were given postseason bans. That seemingly isn't going to happen at Tennessee.

For what it's worth, Arizona State is first all-time with nine major penalty cases.

Kiffin is the gift that keeps on giving in Knoxville. He was on that USC staff during the years in question. (To be fair, he is not named in the infractions report.) He was the head coach for one tumultuous year with the Vols. The NCAA wouldn't drop the institutional control label until the final infractions report. But for now, overall, it looks "good" for Tennessee. The NCAA alleged "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance ... and failure to monitor ..." in the football program. That's almost always considered a major violation. Bad. In this case, not damning.  

The "atmosphere of compliance" allegation is the same one that Rich Rodriguez and Michigan vigorously fought. It was eventually left out of the NCAA's final report in the case regarding abuse of weekly workout time limits under Rodriguez. The dropping of that charge essentially made it much easier for Rodriguez to find his next job. 

A further question is what will follow Kiffin to USC? Kelvin Sampson was found to be a serial violator at Oklahoma and Indiana. He was eventually given a five-year show-cause order, the NCAA's kiss of death when it comes to being able to find work. Rick Neuheisel was in a similar situation at Washington. After he moved from Colorado, the NCAA banned him from off-campus recruiting for a year. Could the same happen to Kiffin, and what would his new boss, Pat Haden, think about it? It would be hard to rebuild USC without being able to go out on the road for a while.

"The penalties are directed at the [originating] university," said NCAA spokesman Stacey Osburn. "However, there are things like a show-cause order that could follow a coach regardless of where they are, where it limits their athletically-related duties."

There is precious little in the allegations about the Tennessee Orange Pride scandal, at least on the record. The New York Times reported 14 months ago that the student ambassador group had been used to make improper contact with recruits. The Times report said Tennessee hostesses were traveling to South Carolina to see recruits play. Former assistant David Reaves is mentioned in a heavily-redacted section mentioning impermissible phone calls and text messages.

 The most interesting part of the allegations might be in section 9 c. The NCAA says Kiffin allowed recruiting intern Steve Rubio to make impermissible contact with the staff at Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, Rubio's old school. The NCAA says the contact occurred after Kiffin and Rubio were both told by Tennessee's football operations guy that Rubio couldn't enter the grounds while accompanying a coach on a recruiting visit. This occurred, the NCAA said, before Rubio was certified to recruit off campus.

Rubio is now current Tennessee coach Derek Dooley's director of player personnel.

Vacating wins are at least on the table: Tennessee is being asked by the NCAA for "a list of the institution's win-loss record for the past four seasons." I'm told that's fairly boiler plate in these types of investigations. But it's also the type of language that was included at Florida State before Bobby Bowden had to give up those wins.

Is all that enough reason to be worried? After 22 months during which it was jilted by one coach and suffered the lies of another, Tennessee still has to feel "good".
Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Tennessee

Since: Oct 12, 2010
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:16 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

LOL....It is the SEC/NCAA way...blame everything on Kiffin and USC.  Was that the quid pro quo?  If they lie about Kiffin, the NCAA will let them off.

Since: Sep 27, 2006
Posted on: February 23, 2011 7:01 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

It seems the NCAA is all about slaps on the wrist these days. Not really handing down any real punishment. Trying to look intimidating then backing off

Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 6:27 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

Dodd your like a little high school girl who is always spreading rumors for her own intertainment.  Why exactly is Lane Kiffin's picture on the headline?

Kiffin acted like a complete imbecile as the Vols head coach.  However, he is not to blame for all of their problems and that's what their fan base needs to come to terms with. 

Since: May 24, 2007
Posted on: February 23, 2011 6:10 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

Just what did anyone expect?  Tennessee has gotten away with alot over the years.  They have a Sugar Daddy at the NCAA.

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: February 23, 2011 5:06 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

The NCAA is doing a fine job, on all on its own, of embarassing itself. I'd like to know where the line is drawn for what constitutes a slap on the wrist, what warrants major punishment and what gets let go. The line drawn seems to be blurry, and about a mile wide. Some punishments have fit the crime. And then, other times you're left scratching your head wondering how certain people, or programs, got away with something, or why they're being punished in the first place.

Since: Feb 19, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 3:59 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

Nope, bu it makes the NCAA look bad.   Does the NCAA do anything except act important?  Cause they're sure not doing their job.

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: February 23, 2011 2:29 pm

It doesn't look that bad for Tennessee

still...this is like a nagging hangover that wont go away.  No matter how many ibuprophen you pop, the only thing that will ease the pain is time passing.  Here's to hoping no one spikes the Orange Dooley Kool-aid!

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