Archive for the ‘Cheating’ Category

HLL: NY Times Reports NCAA Investigating “Vol Hostesses”

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Tennessee FootballOkay, 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.

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Alabama gets caught cheating, Kiffin plays with chalk

No Pass Out Checks | Gate21

Somewhere, in front of a chalkboard—his hands coated with chalk dust—Lane Kiffin is smiling…

For the past several months Tennessee fans and the general sports-watching public have heard a near endless discussion about the various secondary infractions which have occurred since Lane Kiffin (a/k/a “the Blackjack General”) took the reins as the head football coach for the Tennessee Volunteers.  Needless to say, some have taken every available opportunity to criticize the University of Tennessee, The UT Athletic Department, Smiling Mike Hamilton, and the Blackjack General himself.  Some of it has amounted to little more than sniping and smack-talk, while others have been decidedly more direct.

Rightly or wrongly, Tennessee has self-reported (or is in the process of investigating with with an eye toward reporting) six secondary violations of NCAA Rules, the most recent coming—as HSH reported just the other day—as a result of the Blackjack General’s recent appearance on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” where he discussed, imagine that, secondary infractions with ESPN’s Bob Ley.

A “secondary violation” is defined in the NCAA Manual as follows:

A secondary violation is a violation that is isolated or inadvertent in nature, provides or is intended to provide only a minimal recruiting, competitive or other advantage and does not include any significant recruiting inducement or extra benefit.  Multiple secondary violations by a member institution may collectively be considered as a major violation.

•  2008-09 NCAA Division 1 ManualPDF Document § 19.02.2.1 (emphasis added)

To put this in layman’s terms, secondary violations are the functional equivalent of talking in the NCAA’s rather large and particularly boring class.  Or, perhaps, in Lane Kiffin’s case, they amount to showing-off for all the girls (or in this case, recruits) in the back of class to impress them and passing notes reading:

I like you.  A Lot.

Do you like me?

Check One:  ___Yes  ___No  ___Maybe

— Lane

While this sort of thing—in both Mrs. Elliott’s 6th Period English Class and in the world of NCAA compliance—are annoying, they are largely harmless.  While it is true (again, with both Mrs. Elliott and the NCAA) that enough of these sorts of minor errors along the way can land you in the proverbial Principal’s office, as long as you say you are sorry after each instance (and UT has self-reported all such violations) and space the occurrences out by a day or two, usually there is little punishment to be meted out, aside from being made a spectacle in front of your peers…

… or by having to stay after class and write on the blackboard.

Kiffin-Chalkboard

Kiffin at the Chalkboard

Hence, while Lane Kiffin and the UT Athletic Department are probably getting a little tired of having to deal with the issue of secondary violations, they have been merely a bump in the road thus far.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, on the other hand, is now facing a decidedly more serious situation…

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This Is Good Stuff

The View From the Hill | Gate 21

I think I’ve made my disdain for the University of Memphis Tigers basketball program pretty well-known. So when I got a text message from my dad last night in the middle of the Lakers-Nuggets game alerting me of the allegations against the Tigers, I must admit I got a kick out of it.

The Tigers’ best season, where they won 38 games and should have won a national championship (thank you Mario Chalmers), now apparently will be null-and-void.

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So, did the Butler do it?

No Pass Out Checks | Gate 21

Brian Butler has been called many things by many people, not all of them are nice.

Butler is a former rapper and call-center manager, and a seemingly respectable football trainer based out of Wichita, Kansas.  At present, Butler is the principal and operator of the Potential Players recruiting service through which he serves as a self-styled, come-lately, “recruiting adviser” to high school football standouts across the country.  A “gifted” self-promoter, he is also the subject of a recently announced investigation by the NCAA.

Brian Butler working a recruit (NY Times / Simmons)

There are many questions being asked about Butler by many people, especially those recruiting high school standout Bryce Brown (which includes Tennessee).  The fundamental question, however, centers on whether he is essentially seeking to act as a sports agent for players being recruited by college football programs.

For now, at least, there is no definitive answer to this query.

The reason that this is an issue is that Butler has widely taken the position that the only way that college recruiters can speak with high-schoolers that he is “advising” is by going through him.  To many, this appears—at least outwardly—that Butler is serving as an “agent” rather than simply as an “adviser.”

Again, why does anyone care?  Under NCAA bylaws, current and potential student athletes are prohibited from retaining agents, and requires that all prospective athletes undergo an amateurism certification process, which includes, among other things, certifying that the athlete has not agreed to be represented by an agent.  On the issue of agents, NCAA Bylaw 12.3 states that:

An individual shall be ineligible for participation in an intercollegiate sport if he or she ever has agreed (orally or in writing) to be represented by an agent for the purpose of marketing his or her athletics ability or reputation in that sport. Further, an agency contract not specifically limited in writing to a sport or particular sports shall be deemed applicable to all sports, and the individual shall be ineligible to participate in any sport.

See NCAA Operational Bylaw 12.3.1 (PDF )

The NCAA’s website offers additional guidance stating that:

…a student-athlete (any individual who currently participates in or who may be eligible in the future to participate in intercollegiate sport) may not agree verbally or in writing to be represented by an athlete agent in the present or in the future for the purpose of marketing the student-athlete’s ability or reputation. If the student-athlete enters into such an agreement, the student-athlete is ineligible for intercollegiate competition.

Also, a student-athlete may not accept transportation or other benefits from an athlete agent. This prohibition applies to the student-athlete and his or her relatives or friends.

The term “agent” includes actual agents, runners (individuals who befriend student-athletes and frequently distribute impermissible benefits) and financial advisors.

It is not a violation of NCAA rules if a student-athlete merely talks to an agent (as long as an agreement for agent representation is not established) or socializes with an agent.

• via: Overview of NCAA Bylaws Governing Athlete Agents | NCAA.org

Thus, Butler acting as the only means of communication with a recruit could be troubling and potentially a violation of NCAA rules, hence the NCAA investigation.

This raises a particularly thorny set of issues for high school athletes and their families, college athletic departments, high school coaches, college boosters, the NCAA, and State Legislators.  That’s right, I said State Legislators.

For these reasons, I am personally of the opinion that someone—whether it be Butler, athletes, college institutions, or otherwise—will end up paying for what amounts to an infraction that lies in the proverbial “gray area” of the NCAA’s rules.  A violation in spirit, if not in the letter.  The problem is, however, that whether Butler’s conduct violates many rules or none all depends on the perspective applied to the facts, and for the record, I make no assertion that I know or understand all of the facts.

Still, let’s use a hypothetical to illustrate the complexity of the situation.

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Headlines, Links, & Lies: “I’m not as lazy as I appear to be” Edition

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Just a quick link or two that stood out to me…

Fred White does sports talk, and chats with VJ

First of all, anyone who remembers watching former Vol DB Fred “The Deuce” White from 1996-99 will be pleased to hear that Fred now has his own radio show courtesy of 1180 WVLZ in Knoxville, the same station that brings you Basilio and other great sports talk radio. The guys over at Vol Junkies recently got the chance to sit down and chat with Fred about his new show and get a few insights from the big man. Check out the interview over at Vol Junkies, and you can check out Fred’s show at 1180 am on your radio dial or in a live web stream from the WVLZ website.

Brian Butler’s tale gets even more twisted

RTT’s Hooper takes an interesting look at all of the issues surrounding the Tennessee recruit Bryce Brown’s “handler,” Brian Butler, on the heels of the announcement that the NCAA will be investigating Butler’s involvement the recruiting of high school athletes (not an investigation of any program in particular, but rather one of Butler and his Potential Players recruiting service).  It’s an interesting read, discussing the thorny path that high school handlers must walk, and the possible implications it can have for both recruits and the programs recruiting them.  Oh it’s a tangled web we weave…

MoonDog gets a facelift

In case you hadn’t noticed, the venerable and all-knowing MoonDog has gotten a facelift.  Well, at least his site has.  Slide on over and check out the new look for his prognosticating and pontification portal, MoonDogSports.com, which is pretty snazzy looking if you ask me (of course I did help a little with the makeover, so I suppose I’m biased).

Anyway…

Hopefully, I will get a chance to come up for air soon, and can continue on with my series looking into the impact of the nation’s economic woes on major athletics entitled: “The Cost of Sports.”  I also hope to simply get back to my standard fare of half-baked and poorly executed commentary on Tennessee sports.  Until then, however, all I can say is that I am trying my best and hope to be back in the saddle … someday.

– So it goes …Email lawvol


A little more on Kiffin and Meyer (by request)

Well, I do believe that the whole “Kiffin-Gate” thing is getting a little out of hand now, not that I am really all that surprised.  I still stand by my comments of the other day, that while the Blackjack General may have been wrong about the rule, his comments have had the desired effect.

Take for instance the fact that Gregg Doyel (who attended Florida, is known for loving to tick people off, looks remarkably like Anthony Edwards from ER, and apparently cannot spell either of his names correctly) who probably could have given damn about the Tennessee Volunteers at this point in time, is ventilating at full tilt.  This has led Doyel to conclude, among other things, that:   1) Kiffin should be fired immediately; 2)  Tennessee fans are “stupid people” (especially VASF donors); and 3) Kiffin is an “idiot,” “bufoon,” and “dumb.”  Doyel also concludes that, as the opposite of “Urban” Meyer everyone should refer to Tennessee’s head coach as “Rural” Kiffin.  That has to be one of the dumbest plays on words I’ve heard in a while.  Others, have been more complimentary, including  Bruce Feldman and the guys at PTI.

What, John Adams supporting the Vols?

What, John Adams supporting the Vols?

At any rate, it seems that this thing refuses to die.  Which, considering it is keeping Tennessee in the public eye and on the lips of every sports commentator across the country, is probably a good thing.  Oh, and for the record, it hasn’t seemed to hurt prospects with recruits out there, such as Joe Montana’s son, Nick.  As an aside, I found the thoughts of some of the “common fans” of Southern Cal’s take on all of this enlightening — they think it is great and have, almost uniformly, nice things to say about Kiffin.  I am also beginning to make me wonder if hell has frozen over considering that the KNS’ John Adams has actually been saying nice things about the Tennessee Football Program lately.

Not to be outdone, and in the hopes of spreading the venom even farther — sticking with my “This is Sparta” theme — here’s my little addition to the whole thing:

Lane Kiffin to Urban Meyer - This is Sparta.png

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater! (click to enlarge)

Oh, and feel free to copy this and spread it to the four-winds (although I would appreciate a link back if you don’t mind).

At any rate, the current course of the football program at Tennessee is easy to assess:  1) after the pain of the Season of Constant Sorrow (2008) things are finally moving forward;  2) people are talking; and 3) at present the 2009 season comes down to two games:  Western Kentucky (first home game) and the 19 September meeting with the Florida Gators.

And you thought the offseason was supposed to be boring…

– So it goes …Email lawvol


HT to: 3SIBVol Junkies (for the idea)VolNation

Theories about Lane Kiffin’s jab at Urban Meyer…

Headlines, Links & Lies | Gate 21

Rusty over at RTT has offered up 5 theories for Lane Kiffin‘s (a/k/a the Blackjack General) barb to Urban Meyer yesterday.  They are worth a read.  Rusty’s theories started a rather interesting discussion on the subject.

Anyway, here are my two cents worth, which I originally posted over on RTT as a comment (with the addition of the video and image):

The comment on Meyer is simply a comment made to a closed group being taken out of context.  That is, Kiffin said “cheating” in the sense of “man, that’s some slimy stuff” but is was taken as “violation of codified NCAA and SEC rules and regulations.” In other words, he was speaking like a normal person and not like some degenerate lawyer (I can say that, I are one).

In the big picture, I think that there is a method to Kiff’s madness.  I think he realizes that the Tennessee fans need something to help rally them to “the flag,” which a little controversy will accomplish.

Furthermore, I think — rightly or wrongly — he perceives a belief among the fans that Tennessee has been the “nice guy fuddy-duddy” type for a long time and have never really stood its ground the way it could (See Charlie Brown).  I think that there is a definite feeling of this sort among many in the Big Orange fanbase.

I also think he believes that the opposite it true — that other coaches (especially Urban Meyer) have gotten used to walking on Tennessee and now feel an entitlement of sorts.  I think this is also true.  I think Kiff realizes that he has to stop that, and that the fans will gladly support him in this.

I also think — given who he has attacked and who he hasn’t (See Mark Richt, Houston Nutt, Rich Brooks, Les Miles, etc.) — that it is a calculated move to agitate those who simply cannot stand being agitated and love to agitate constantly.  Steve Spurrier was the master of this in the 1990s — and it was very effective.  Kiffin wants to try and begin to get in the heads of others who believe themselves to be mighty, but has notably spared the friendly sorts. (Oh, and for the record, Spurrier can take being agitated. In fact it often seems to make him respect others more. Plus, he was pretty affable in response to the whole recruiting test discourse.)

I think Kiff probably understands that the team might not fare well at first, but he is showing that he’s not willing to be pushed around now.  It’s the proverbial “knock me down, and I’ll get back up and say it again, so you can knock me down, so I can get up and say it again, till I get strong enough that you can no longer knock me down” approach (man what a run-on).

I also think that Kiffin is simply not the kind of guy who shirks from a challenge, and the staff he has assembled bears that out. (Compare Mr. Edward Orgeron and … the World)  Call me crazy, but he almost has me believing that he can pull it off as well.

To be able to win, you have to first believe that you can win.  To take on the invincible, you have to believe you are invincible. (See This is Sparta)

Video:  300 – “This is Sparta

Of course, I also believe that Elvis Presley is living in Vonore, Tennessee under the assumed name “Leyland T. Vegas” and that Plate Tectonics is all part of some nefarious Communist conspiracy

Viva, Baby... Viva!

Viva, Baby... Viva!

At its basic level, however, Kiffin is accomplishing something — getting the fans and team ready for a fight and getting the media interested enough to show up and document it all.

•  HT to / via:  Five theories about Lane Kiffin’s jab at Urban Meyer | Rocky Top Talk

I suppose it all comes down to Jules Winnfield / Samuel L. Jackson’s statement: “Oh, well allow me to retort…

At any rate, the conversation has been interesting over there, and is worth a look (and perhaps a comment).


Image Courtesy ofElvis Impersonators Blog
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