KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee men’s athletic director Mike Hamilton said Friday there was a “possibility” the NCAA could send the Volunteers an official letter of inquiry regarding potential recruiting violations during the tenure of former coach Lane Kiffin.
Hamilton said he’s not aware of any reported violations under Kiffin or current UT coach Derek Dooley other than the six secondary violations reported during the Kiffin era.
The AD reiterated his previous stance that NCAA investigators initially came calling after a report that two female members of UT’s coed “Orange Pride” group — where the females are commonly known as Vols hostesses — traveled to a high school game in South Carolina and made signs urging prospects to play at UT. One of those prospects, Corey Miller, signed with the Vols. The other, Brandon Willis, went to North Carolina.
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley talks to the media during the Vols' first NCAA college football practice of the season on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/ Knoxville News Sentinel, Adam Brimer)
“I think based upon what I know now, that there’s a possibility we will get a letter of inquiry. We’ve not had one yet,” Hamilton said. “We’ve publicly acknowledged that the NCAA has been looking into some potential allegations during Coach Kiffin’s time here. Obviously, at this point there hasn’t been conclusion to that. We’ll see, but I think that is a possibility.
“I don’t want to say this is a rehash of old news, but we’ve already acknowledged that the NCAA is looking into this, and that we didn’t have a letter. I guess if there is any news, it’s that we anticipate we might get an official letter of inquiry. But we don’t have that at this stage.”
A report on ESPN’s “College Football Live” brought the UT investigation back into the public spotlight, but few new proven facts have surfaced in months. The Times Free Press has previously reported that NCAA investigators have spoken with multiple UT assistant coaches and people from South Carolina.
“To the best of my understanding, (the NCAA has) interviewed several people,” Hamilton said. “I have not done a formal interview. But obviously whenever they get ready to come on campus and talk to any of your employees, there’s a sit down where they talk about what that process is going to look like. And I’ve been through that.”
Hamilton claimed he didn’t know the specific “line of questioning” the NCAA directed toward UT employees.
“I’m sure once the NCAA begins to look into anything, certainly, everything is fair game into their line of questioning,” he said. “I’m not privy to that specific information, but I would imagine that if they have knowledge or reason to believe that there might be other things they need to question, then certainly they would be doing that.”
Hamilton wouldn’t comment specifically on a timetable for the NCAA to conclude its investigation, but a source closely connected to the situation said UT is ready to hear whatever the NCAA has and “move on” from the Kiffin era. One potential delay, according to the source, is the NCAA’s failed attempts so far to interview Kiffin and some of his Southern California staff who were with him in Knoxville.
Dooley said after Friday’s practice that he knew “absolutely nothing” about UT expecting an NCAA letter of inquiry. The coach admitted that some of his assistants were asked about the matter shortly after he took the job in January.
“I really shouldn’t comment on that,” Dooley said. “I don’t want to say anything, because y’all are going to say, ‘You told us there was no letter!’
Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.
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