published Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Kiffin charged with failure-to-monitor instead of Tennessee

KNOXVILLE -- One of the most important developments in the University of Tennessee's lengthy case with the NCAA was former coach Lane Kiffin receiving a failure-to-monitor charge instead of the Volunteers' football program.

The university's response to the NCAA, which UT released to the Times Free Press on Monday, explained the details of why Kiffin, who left UT for Southern Cal after one season, was given the charge. After receiving the NCAA's Notice of Allegations in February, UT formally responded in May and went before the Committee on Infractions in June.

Contained in the 190-page document is UT's reply to each of the alleged 10 major infractions against the men's basketball and football programs, the school's self-imposed two-year probation and the other punitive actions the school imposed on former and current football and basketball coaching staffs.

While the document vividly describes the downfall of UT's former basketball staff with transcripts of the conversations former head coach Bruce Pearl and assistants Tony Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay had with NCAA investigators in which they admitted to the lies and attempted cover-up that ultimately led to their firings in March, the football portion of the case is still shrouded with some mystery.

The NCAA lumped four separate recruiting infractions of a secondary nature into one major infraction, though two of those violations involving former assistant David Reaves are heavily redacted to protect the identity of former or current UT students.

Now the offensive coordinator at New Mexico, Reaves allegedly had UT students contact football recruits illegally, which UT disputed in its response, and his involvement in two members of UT's now-defunct Orange Pride hostess group attending a high school game in South Carolina is the biggest mystery in this case.

"The university does not believe it is appropriate to cite Kiffin for failing to monitor Reaves in that instance," the response states. "Rather, the weight of the evidence is that Reaves acted on his own and without notice to Kiffin. However, as the head coach, Kiffin was ultimately responsible for all employees of the football program."

As for the 16 impermissible phone calls during a Jan. 3-9, 2010, contact period and the impermissible in-person off-campus contact of then UT recruiting intern Steve Rubio with administrators at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., UT said it provided Kiffin with enough information that he should have prevented the violations.

From December 2008 to January 2010, UT's compliance staff "provided no fewer than 135 rules-education items" to football coaches and administrators.

"When the university began hiring the former football staff ... the compliance staff immediately began a campaign to fully educate the staff on all aspects of NCAA rules," the response states. "The compliance staff was particularly focused on rules education for the football staff at that time because several of the football coaching staff members were returning to college football from careers in the National Football League."

Brad Bertani, UT's associate athletic director for compliance, said he "vividly" remembered having conversations with the staff "about the impermissibility of certain contacts" just a month before the illegal calls were made.

During the 2009 contact and evaluation period, UT's senior associate athletic director David Blackburn said Bertani and coordinator of football operations Kyle Strongin "were in frequent communication about the permissibility of the coaches' activities," according to the response. Though Strongin also confirmed he relayed Bertani's messages to the coaches, Kiffin said he "did not recall" the compliance staff providing any specific information on illegal calls.

On their recruiting trip to Florida, Kiffin brought Rubio because he attended St. Thomas Aquinas and his familiarity with the area would help Kiffin more easily navigate the area. Rubio had no contact with any prospects while in the school, speaking only with his former coaches and teachers, according to the response.

Blackburn said he specifically told Kiffin on the eve of the trip and Rubio during the trip that Rubio wasn't allowed to enter any schools. Kiffin said it was a "rare circumstance," so he allowed Rubio to enter "to see his old buddies."

"In both instances," the response said, "Kiffin was in a position to have prevented the violations before they occurred."

UT's ability to pin the failure-to-monitor charge and the illegal recruiting on former coaches, along with corrective actions and cooperation with the NCAA, should alleviate the NCAA's pending penalties, which could come sometime next month.

"The university is deeply disappointed that these violations have occurred," the response states. "The depth of the disappointment is matched only by its commitment to doing whatever is necessary to restore the reputations of its men's basketball and football programs. That commitment is perhaps most visibly evidenced by the hiring of Derek Dooley as head football coach and Cuonzo Martin as head men's basketball coach. Both men have impeccable reputations for integrity and compliance with governing rules and regulations."

Contact Patrick Brown at or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at

about Patrick Brown...

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 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

This was, perhaps, the best news that came from the whole ordeal. Basketball might ultimately get buried but football should be in good shape because UT was able to pin the violations on Kiffin and not the compliance department.

Vols Top Ten Uncommitted Targets for 2012

July 26, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.
Livn4life said...

Come on people, we know the Kiffster's not responsible for failure to monitor. I'll bet it was Al Davis' fault for not paying Kiffy the money Kiff claims he owes him. That argument should fly with the NCAA. This story just goes on and on and on. The fun continues too. It ought to get even more interesting after this.

July 26, 2011 at 1:26 p.m.
Salsa said...

Kiffin is just keeping the seat warm until USC hires its real coach after the sanctions expire.

July 26, 2011 at 2:39 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

I'm with you PR...and Salsa...

I went to EVERY home game for 30+ years...48 yd line...52 rows up...C section...quit going when the steps got to be too much...glad I NEVER saw Kiffin and his daddy and good ol' Ed live. Watched them on TV...made me sick!

What TOTAL losers! Hope USC gets their "fill" of them all real soon!

July 27, 2011 at 10:01 a.m.
nowfedup said...

The whole thing of college sports being called "amateur student sports" etc, is kind of a joke from the get go. The priority for USA education should be how to attract and graduate students that will get USA back to world class competition in a world where educated nations will rule, others will be second tier. So let's move college sports off campus, recognize them as training camps for pro's and get back to educating nation to compete in a world where the smartest will rule, others will follow. Our only hope for future now is to convince the rest of world they must have "college teams" and play off's, national champs and other spin offs that create jobs for media, and various out strap hangers. For those that argue "Sports creates money for colleges" well news flash, the point of college is not to "Create money" it is to become educated, something most miss. Yep, if only we can get China, India, Brazil and those other folks to push for bowl games and play offs, rather then world class hi tech education, we might have a future, for now they are stuck back in dark ages with massive education programs while USA drifts further down the education scale, now 25th and being beaten by educated "home teams" from second tier nations. Rah rah rah USA? But seems many in USA now measure their worth by how well "the home town team does", and the world walks away.

July 28, 2011 at 10:21 a.m.
eastridge8 said...

Good point nowfedup...good point...

July 28, 2011 at 11:34 a.m.
GaDawgFan said...

As a Georgia fan I hope we can pull out a win against you guys this fall, but as an SEC fan I really hope you guys can recover from Kiffin and everyone associated with him. While the damage he did to UT was devastating, he also was an embarrassment to the entire conference. I will also add that I grew up in Athens and can tell you that Dooley is a class act and that your program is in a better place with him.

August 1, 2011 at 5:22 p.m.
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