KNOXVILLE - Tennessee's lengthy case with the NCAA is closed in Derek Dooley's eyes.
The Volunteers' second-year football coach couldn't say much about a Monday night report by Yahoo! Sports that said former UT assistant Willie Mack Garza reimbursed Houston-based scout Willie Lyles for paying for plane tickets for former five-star running back recruit Lache Seastrunk and his mother to visit Knoxville in 2009.
"It's something that happened before I got here by a coach who's not on our staff involving a player who is not on our team," Dooley said after practice Tuesday morning. "There's nothing really I can say about it other than that."
UT got a ruling last month from the NCAA on a lengthy investigation into the school's football and men's basketball programs. The NCAA put the school on two years' probation, but UT did not receive any further penalties from the NCAA. The investigation focused primarily on major violations by former basketball coach Bruce Pearl and his staff, but the NCAA also investigated illegal recruiting activity by former football coach Lane Kiffin and his staff.
Garza was Kiffin's defensive backs coach and followed him to Southern Cal after one season at UT. He resigned, however, two days before the season started, citing personal reasons that were unrelated to USC.
According to the report, Lyles told the NCAA about the illegal transaction with Seastrunk, who signed with Oregon and transferred to Baylor prior to this season, in an Aug. 30 interview with investigators in Los Angeles.
"[The chapter's] closed to me," Dooley said. "You never want anything to come out on your program that somebody might perceive as negative. But you know what, I can't change what happened. All we can deal with is make sure everybody understands that this wasn't under our watch and it wasn't involving a coach on our staff and it doesn't involve a player that's been in our program.
"I'm hoping the NCAA is going to stay consistent with what they've done, which is 'Let's target the people that make these mistakes, not the programs.'"
The Vols don't have much injury news, though reserve linebacker and special-teams mainstay Raiques Crump was doing workouts on the side during practice.
Freshman linebacker Curt Maggitt made his media debut and spoke about his transition from high school to college.
"The toughest part has been adjusting from high school into college and just waking up every morning and having that mindset every day to get better and try to be the best you can be every day," Maggitt said.
"College ball is seven days a week, all day, every day. If you’re not getting treatment or watching film, you’re doing classwork or getting a nap or getting a meal. You probably have 45 minutes a day of break time to watch a little TV or something. Sunday and Monday you rest up a little bit, but you’re always thinking about what’s coming next. You don’t want to do anything negative to your body. In high school you can probably hang out late Saturday night, late Sunday, go to school Monday and have a successful week. It’s a lot different in college, you have to be responsible."
Maggitt also plays a pass-rushing defensive end role for the Vols on passing downs, as UT tries to make the best use of the former four-star recruit's unique skill set.
I'll have more on Maggitt in Wednesday's Times Free Press. Follow me on Twitter for more continuous updates.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...
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