Vols receive additional penalties from Kiffin tenure
It has been nearly four years since Lane Kiffin packed his bags and made a quick exit from Knoxville, but the Tennessee football program is still reeling the effects. A year ago, the Vols successfully pushed blame upon a ‘renegade’ coach that had since departed. It resulted in the program receiving no additional penalties from the NCAA, beyond those which were self imposed. But the Kiffin staff has surfaced again, and this time there was no relief.
The NCAA has imposed additional penalties to the University of Tennessee on Friday, stemming from unethical conduct by a former member of the coaching staff. That former assistant also served briefly at USC, before making a sudden departure, as the Willie Lyles scandal continued to unfold.
Willie Mack Garza resigned his post at USC in August of 2011, and the running statement from the Athletic Department was that it was not at liberty to discuss the recent event. Though his superiors were tongue-tied then, the NCAA speaks now, and reveals additional infractions committed by the defensive backs coach while at Tennessee.
In the facts agreed upon by the University, the NCAA and Garza, during the summer of 2009, Garza reimbursed Will Lyles, an individual associated with prospect Lache Seastrunk, for airfare and hotel expenses associated with an unofficial visit for Seastrunk and his mother to the University. Because Lyles arranged the trip for Seastrunk, the NCAA classified him as a booster of the University.
This visit took place two months prior to the permissible time period for prospects to make expense paid visits to the University. In August 2010, while employed at the University of Southern California, Garza was interviewed by the NCAA Enforcement Staff and failed to disclose information concerning the impermissible visit. In a subsequent interview with the Enforcement Staff conducted in August 2011, Garza denied knowledge of these activities until presented with objective proof of the financial transfer, at which time Garza admitted his role in the matter.—GoVols247
In light of the new finding, Tennessee’s probation is extended 2 years. It also received a reduction in official visits for academic year 2012-2013, and a reduction in evaluation days for coaches.
Garza vacated his post as defensive backs coach at USC just weeks before the 2011 season opener. The decision to do so came just days after the NCAA Committee on Infractions conducted an interview with Willie Lyles. The dates and times made it easy to connect ‘A” to ‘B’ and find reason for his backdoor departure, despite Southern California’s commitment to silence.
Kiffin’s staff committed several NCAA infractions at Tennessee, including the use of female hostesses during off-campus recruiting. Those infractions did not follow the coach to the west coast. And to ensure no further penalties to a USC program already sanctioned, he separated himself from a staff member that suddenly began to draw NCAA fire.