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Is The Worst Yet To Come For Tennessee Football?

Submitted by on August 14, 2010 – 10:10 am20 Comments

It’s been quite a busy summer for the NCAA. From revoking Heisman Trophies, a national title, fourteen wins from the 2005 season, and two years of playoff contention from Reggie Bush (who violated NCAA rules by receiving over $300,000 in gifts from sports agents) and his alma mater USC, the association has set its sights on the Tennessee Volunteers and rightfully so.

As the allegations have it, there were many recruitment violations at Tennessee under the leadership of former head coach Lane Kiffin (who, ironically enough, now coaches the USC Trojans). The allegations have led to an ongoing investigation of the University of Tennessee which seems to be intensifying by the second.

As part of that investigation, as ESPN reports, the NCAA would like to talk to standout running back (and former Tennessee Vol) Bryce Brown, most likely to find out what factors caused him to agree to play at Tennessee. Brown, a heralded high school recruit, waited until well after national signing day to announce his LeBron-esque “Decision,” and ended up choosing Tennessee after orally committing to the University of Miami early on in the recruiting process.

It’s widely believed that one of the factors which may have led to his decision is a certain level of “persuasion” by a group of attractive female hostesses who may or may not have gone to great lengths (wink) to get high school players to commit to Tennessee. Fueling such suspicions about Brown are pictures like this one, which shows him with an admitted Orange Pride hostess (don’t they look happy?) courtesy of Deadspin.

Now the association wants to speak with Brown, who left Tennessee and has decided instead to attend Kansas State. No longer loyal to the Volunteers (and possibly resentful after coach Derek Dooley refused to release him from his scholarship, meaning that he has to pay full price for school this year), Brown will probably have no problem whatsoever giving up the goods on Kiffin if he can do so without getting himself into trouble.

We could say tons here about young and impressionable college athletes, usually from low-income neighborhoods, and the temptation to break the rules which is magnified by the actions of adult agents and hustlers. However, at some point, fans and players alike have to realize that regardless of the actions of ill-intending adults, the athletes have reached the age of majority and must be responsible for themselves. On the other hand, major figures (such as individual coaches and agents) should fall privy to the same shame, guilt, and punishment heaped upon the college athletes if they violate the rules.

If we’ve learned anything from the USC debacle, it’s that the NCAA doesn’t play (pun intended). That being said, Tennessee fans might end up wishing they had never seen Brown, Kiffin, or the Orange Pride hostesses when the investigation and possible sanctions are handed out. Of course, those yet-to-be-determined punishments bring up another age-old question: Is it really fair for the NCAA to punish a university/program for the actions of individuals who are no longer there?

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