Lane Kiffin's assistant reportedly paid for UT Vols recruit's visit

Lane Kiffin's assistant reportedly paid for UT Vols recruit's visit

September 27th, 2011 by Patrick Brown in Sports

Staff File Photo by Tim Barber Lane Kiffin will lead his Tennessee Vols against Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-a Bowl on Dec. 31.

KNOXVILLE - The University of Tennessee appeared to be in the clear in its troubles with the NCAA, but that changed Monday night.

Yahoo! Sports reported that Willie Mack Garza, who was UT's defensive backs coach during former coach Lane Kiffin's lone season in 2009, arranged for a recruit and his mother to visit UT and reimbursed Willie Lyles, a scout and the prospect's mentor, a total of $1,446.80 for his purchase of airline tickets.

Lache Seastrunk, a five-star prospect, took an unofficial visit to Knoxville in June 2009, according to the report. He never officially visited the Volunteers, signed with Oregon and transferred to Baylor before this season.

Garza followed Kiffin to Southern Cal but resigned two days before the 2011 season began, citing "some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address."

Lyles, who is based in Houston, has been linked to alleged recruiting violations with Oregon and LSU. Lyles informed the NCAA of the transaction in an Aug. 30 interview in Los Angeles and said investigators were conducting "a wide-ranging look into Tennessee recruiting practices," according to the report.

"We are aware of the situation, as is the conference office," UT associate athletic director for communications Jimmy Stanton told Yahoo!. "We've been verbally contacted by the NCAA enforcement staff and a student-athlete who never attended Tennessee."

UT's case with the NCAA had reached an end earlier this month, when the NCAA accepted the school's long list of self-imposed penalties and placed the school on two years' probation. The NCAA charged UT with failing to monitor former men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl and his staff, but Kiffin and his former staff were cleared of any major violations.

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.