published Friday, September 24th, 2010

UTC placed on NCAA probation

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic department has been hit with two years of probation for “major” violations in the area of recruiting communication, the NCAA Committee on Infractions announced Thursday.

After UTC self-reported numerous “impermissible text messages and telephone calls” by an assistant football coach in January 2009, the NCAA began an investigation that eventually led to examining all UTC coaches’ phone records from 2008-09.

In a 22-page report released Thursday, the infractions committee stated that UTC football and men’s basketball coaches had committed major violations. It also cited isolated incidents involving the men’s tennis and women’s basketball programs.

In addition, the committee deemed that “the institution failed to monitor” that communication.

“We all acknowledge that we could and should have done better,” athletic director Rick Hart said.

UTC self-reported most of the infractions and imposed its own penalties, which the NCAA accepted. The NCAA’s two-year probation penalty does not include a postseason ban, nor does it limit scholarships or television appearances.

The penalties imposed by UTC were completed before Thursday’s announcement.

“The coaches that are involved, the individuals involved, have paid a price,” Hart said. “Not only through the recruiting restrictions and the scholarship reduction, but the reprimand and the knowledge that their integrity is being questioned.”

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    Staff File Photo by Danielle Moore/Chattanooga Times Free Press UTC Athletic Director Rick Hart

Men’s basketball coach John Shulman was cited for 19 of his program’s 23 text messages — coaches are not allowed to send texts to recruits under any circumstances — and one of the 61 impermissible phone calls.

Shulman said all of the text messages he sent were replies to texts sent by recruits or players who had committed to UTC. Many of the impermissible calls, he said, were the result of documentation errors.

Coaches are allowed to contact recruits once a week, and they’re required to keep call logs. If the calls are not documented properly, a second call after not getting an answer on the first can be seen as a violation.

“We want to be compliant,” Shulman said. “We weren’t trying to do anything to bend the rules. We just were complacent and sloppy, and that’s not going to happen anymore.”

The report stated that “the head men’s basketball coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within the program.” It also stated that he did not “protect the integrity of the investigation.”

All UTC staff members involved in the investigation were prohibited from discussing it with anyone, and Shulman was found to have done so on three occasions.

“I contacted [the people involved], and I shouldn’t have done that,” he said. “I was acting emotionally because I’m in charge of these things and it’s my responsibility, but I shouldn’t have.”

UTC took away one men’s basketball scholarship for the 2010-11 academic year and prohibited any recruiting by Shulman or his staff during a 17-week period, from November 2009 to March 2010.

The initial violations by former football recruiting coordinator Jason McManus were detected when UTC began implementing a new system for tracking coaches’ calls to recruits. During the compliance staff’s audit of McManus’ phone records, text and call violations were discovered.

Ultimately, from September to December 2008, it was discovered that McManus sent 113 texts and made six impermissible phone calls.

McManus was initially stripped of his recruiting duties and later resigned, in February 2010.

Now a graduate assistant at Troy University, McManus declined to comment on Thursday’s announcement when contacted by the Times Free Press.

The other two sports involved were men’s tennis (three calls, one text) and women’s baskteball (one call).

Contact John Frierson at jfrierson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mocsbeat.

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about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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