published Saturday, February 14th, 2009

University of Tennessee self-reports another NCAA football violation


by Wes Rucker

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee has self-reported a third NCAA “secondary violation” from the football program in the past four weeks, an athletic department spokesperson said Friday night.

Spokesperson Tiffany Carpenter confirmed reports that Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin mentioned an unsigned prospect, tailback Bryce Brown from Kansas, by name on a Knoxville sports talk show Friday morning.

Brown, Rivals.com’s No. 1 prospect, was on UT’s campus for an official visit during Kiffin’s comments — which came in response to a question regarding the coach’s thoughts on seniors who didn’t sign on national signing day.

“Once very talented players do things, it becomes the cool thing to do, and so the next guy does it, and more and more guys do it,” Kiffin said in the live interview on “The Sports Page” show. “Great players like Bryce Brown are doing it now, so now it’s going to be more next year and more and more next year.”

The NCAA forbids coaches to comment publicly on unsigned players, and the rule specifically states that coaches shouldn’t comment on a student-athlete’s “ability.”

UT committed two secondary violations in January, when it simulated “game-day activities” such as press conferences and smoke machines during several prospects’ official visits.

Secondary violations are generally not punished by the NCAA or conference offices, especially when they are self-reported by the institution — which UT did in all three cases, according to Carpenter.

The Vols’ recent miscues have drawn much more national attention than typical secondary violations, likely because of Kiffin’s outspoken style.

Kiffin said the morning after signing day that Florida’s Urban Meyer “cheated” by calling a prospect during his official visiting UT, but Meyer’s call wasn’t against SEC or NCAA rules. Kiffin violated an SEC rule forbidding league coaches to publicly criticize conference institutions, though and he eventually offered the apology that Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley demanded.

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