It was reported Tuesday that the NCAA Committee on Infractions would release its report on Tennessee and that no additional sanctions would be levied against either the football program or its former head coach, Lane Kiffin
As it turns, that was absolutely correct, although along with that positive outcome came some sharp words for Kiffin and his assistants.
From the NCAA’s report specifically addressing the football portion of the issues in the UT athletic department (our emphasis added):
In the sport of football, it was alleged that major violations occurred in the conduct of the program, including recruiting activities undertaken by student interns. The committee concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support findings of major violations. However, the committee was troubled by the number and nature of the secondary infractions by the football coaching staff during its one-year tenure at the institution. From January 2009 through October 2009 the staff committed 12 violations, all connected to recruiting. Some of the violations received nationwide publicity and brought the football program into public controversy. This is not a record of which to be proud. Nevertheless, because the violations individually were secondary and most were isolated, the committee, in the end, determined not to make a finding of a major violation.
“I’m very grateful to the NCAA, the Committee on Infractions and its chairman, Dennis Thomas, for a very fair and thorough process,” Kiffin said in a statement. “I’m also very grateful that we were able to accurately and fairly present the facts in our case and that no action was taken against us. I’m pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception. I’m also very grateful that the Tennessee football program was cleared of any wrongdoing.
“As I have said before, we always have been committed to following NCAA rules and bylaws both at Tennessee and now at USC, and we always will be. Now that this has reached its conclusion, I am looking forward to continuing to prepare our team for the upcoming season.”
To review, the Notice of Allegations sent to UT in February charged Kiffin with a “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant coaches.” The charges stemmed in part from UT recruiting hostesses having impermissible contact with potential recruits, as well as at least one assistant, David Reaves — a Kiffin assistant and the current USC head coach’s brother-in-law — making improper contact with recruits.
Again, those major violations alleged in the NOA were reduced to a string of secondary violations by the COI.
The COI also accepted the school’s self-imposed sanctions that included two years of probation — that probation will run from August 24, 2011, through August 23, 2013 — for the entire athletic department; reducing from 10 to five the number of coaches who can make phone calls to prospective recruits during the first day of the November 2011 contact period; and, during this past spring’s contact period, UT had its permissible recruiting days reduced from 168 to 162.
“It is time for the University of Tennessee to put this behind us and look forward,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek in a statement. “The NCAA commented very positively about our cooperation. We have worked hard to make things right and that has been accepted by the Committee. We have great coaches and great student-athletes, and now it’s time to go out there and compete.”