Elavil For Sale, Okay, this pretty much sucks...
As the Vol Ambassador pointed out earlier today here on the Gate, according to the New York Times (which, as a general rule, avoids simply making stuff up), the NCAA is currently engaged in a wide-reaching investigation of recruiting at Tennessee under Lane Kiffin, with an emphasis on the use of the so-called "Vol Hostesses," (with particular attention being paid to Hostess Lacey Earps), who routinely accompany recruits on visits to campus. This investigation was confirmed by Mike Hamilton, though he declined to comment on the substance , and the UTAD has since issued an official statement.
The real interest appears to be trips taken by some of the Vol Hostesses to watch potential recruits play as high schoolers. These visits, especially if they result in direct communications related to the recruiting of the athlete are potentially barred under NCAA regulations. Times reporters Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans noted instances where Vol Hostesses had traveled as distance up to 200 or more miles to see recruits play, and had occasionally exchanged text messages with potential recruits.
As official representatives of the UT Athletic Department, contact by these Hostesses could lead to secondary violations, even if the contact was not sanctioned by athletic department officials.
Of particular note, is the fact that the NCAA has been interviewing potential recruits who have not yet formally signed a letter of intent to play for the Vols, an unusual occurrence. Typically, the NCAA only interviews recruits after they have committed. The implication being that the investigation is a serious one and one which the NCAA is not taking lightly.
This is especially true considering the fact that Tennessee racked-up a minimum of six secondary violations since December of 2008. In fact, as attorney and former NCAA investigator, Rick Evrard, told the Times, those secondary violations could have been the impetus leading to the investigation in the first instance. Evard was stated:
Secondaries mean something to the NCAA. It’s very telling if an institution continues to report secondaries particularly if they’re in the same category. If you keep doing the same thing over and over and keep reporting it, that would trigger the N.C.A.A.’s enforcement staff to possibly go in and look at some of that activity.
Former NCAA Investigator Rick Evrard, speaking to the New York Times
It seems to me that a recruiting tool which pairs attractive young women with potential football stars who are approximately 18 years old for the sole purpose of convincing them to play for Tennessee is destined for disaster. This is hardly a new realization for me -- I have felt this way since I was a student at Tennessee -- but this investigation makes it all the more apparent. I do not believe that the athletic department has ever intentionally attempted to use the Vol Hostesses as the proverbial "bait," and I am not questioning the scruples or morals of these young ladies. All I am saying is that, at that age and in those circumstances, things can happen.
The fact of the matter is that this could be a potentially far-reaching and very serious investigation. On the other hand, it could end up being more smoke than fire. Either way, I would imagine that the Athletic Department will be taking a long, hard, look at the use of Vol Hostesses as part of the recruiting process.
More on this as the web untangles...
HT: Go Vols Xtra
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