published Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

David Blackburn: UTC Mocs must balance transparency, confidentiality

UTC athletic director David Blackburn
UTC athletic director David Blackburn
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Athletic director David Blackburn said Monday that the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga needs to find a balance between protecting the confidentiality of the student-athletes in situations like the football program's suspensions to start the season and being as forthcoming as possible.

His comments to the Times Free Press came following the revelation Saturday by Mocs coach Russ Huesman that five players had been suspended for the first six quarters of the season. Huesman specifically had denied following UTC's season opener on Aug. 29 that one of the five players was suspended.

"Here in our athletics department at UTC we always want to put the best interests of our students at the front of what we do," Blackburn said. "At the same time, I think we have to be as transparent as we can be in all that we do.

"I really feel Russ's intentions were to protect the confidentiality of those kids, the athletes. However, moving forward our entire staff has to know that there are ways to be open and transparent and still preserve the confidentiality of our student-athletes."

Blackburn added: "I don't think his intentions were to be dishonest, by any means. He doesn't strike me as that kind of a person at all. I'm high on him as a person."

Blackburn said he spoke to all of the parties involved Monday and "everyone's clear" on his position. He said the players were properly punished for their infractions, there aren't any UTC code-of-conduct issues for Huesman and everyone will move forward as the Mocs prepare to host Austin Peay on Saturday at Finley Stadium.

Williams honored

Mocs running back Keon Williams was named the Southern Conference offensive player of the week Monday. Williams rushed for a career-high 147 yards against Georgia State, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. His big performance was part of a 401-yard rushing day for the Mocs.

The redshirt junior, a former Red Bank High School standout, was last honored by the SoCon in 2010, when he ran for 101 yards against The Citadel and was the freshman of the week.

Williams led UTC with 500 rushing yards in 2010, was suspended for the 2011 season and had limited action in 2012, gaining just 155 yards on 51 carries. He had 101 yards midway through the second quarter against GSU, which had held Samford to 105 rushing yards the week before.

He lowered his shoulder and drove a linebacker into the turf at the end of a run in the first quarter, sending his nearby teammates on the UTC sideline into a frenzy.

"If it wasn't for [the offensive line] setting up those blocks and getting those lane for me to run through, I wouldn't have gone anywhere," Williams said Saturday. "I felt good getting out there and breaking some tackles."

Extra points

Judging this week's opponent, Austin Peay, could prove difficult for the Mocs' coaches. The Governors opened their season with a 45-0 loss at Tennessee and fell 38-3 at Vanderbilt last week. Austin Peay went 2-9 in 2012, going 1-7 in the Ohio Valley Conference. ... UTC went 10-for-14 on third downs against Georgia State and is a SoCon-best 15-for-29 after two games.

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

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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