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Additional info. on the investigation into the UT football program


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NCAA investigation targets Reaves for not alerting UT

Ex-assistant coach told about visit by two hostesses to South Carolina

By Mike Griffith

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The NCAA investigation into the Tennessee football program involves former quarterbacks coach David Reaves not alerting the school to an improper contact with recruits, which could result in a major violation.

Reaves, now the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at New Mexico, was made aware of the presence of two members of the UT hostess group known as Orange Pride at a high school football game at Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., on Sept. 25, 2009.

The hostesses, Dahra Johnson and team captain Lacey Pearl Earps, posed for photos with two players who had given UT verbal commitments.

Under NCAA rules, Reaves had an obligation to report any potential violation to the UT compliance department immediately.

Byrnes coach Chris Miller said he called Reaves the night of the game, after learning that the contact had taken place.

"I was up in the film room after the game watching film when someone brought it up,'' Miller said Wednesday. "I wasn't aware of it during the game.

"I called (David) Reaves and told him. ... He acted like he didn't know anything about it.''

The UT compliance department was not made aware of the potential violation until December, according to a source in the UT Athletic Department. The source requested anonymity because the investigation has not been completed.

The source added that Reaves was not forthcoming about the hostesses' contact with players when he was first informed of it.

Reaves would neither confirm nor deny the allegation when contacted Wednesday night.

"They (NCAA) have made it abundantly clear that I can't comment on the investigation," Reaves said. "They said that would be the worst thing I could do."

Failure to disclose the information could lead to an unethical conduct charge by the NCAA. When directly asked about that, Reaves replied, "It is what it is."

Reaves was interviewed on Aug. 24 by the NCAA, according to ESPN.com. The report, citing an unidentified source, said Reaves was asked by the NCAA about the hostesses attending the game.

Former UT football coach Lane Kiffin, who is the brother-in-law of Reaves, told The Associated Press in a story published on Dec. 13, 2009, that he assumed another SEC program turned in the violation since the league office - rather than the NCAA - contacted UT about the situation.

Miller said the only other Division I school present at Byrnes the night of the UT hostess visit that he was aware of was Clemson.

A source in the Clemson Athletic Department, who requested anonymity because of the nature of the investigation, said that Clemson made the Atlantic Coast Conference office aware of the UT hostesses being present at the game.

Mike Finn, the ACC's director of football communications, confirmed on Wednesday that Clemson's action would represent the proper course of action in the case of a potential violation.

In turn, Finn said the ACC would turn over the information to the conference of the school involved, in this case the SEC, and that conference office would contact the school and the NCAA.

A New York Times story published on Dec. 8, 2009, chronicled the contact made by the hostesses.

On Dec. 11, 2009, SI.com published a photo of current UT freshman defensive lineman Corey Miller and former UT commitment Brandon Willis posing with Johnson and Earps, who were seniors last year.

The Orange Pride's presence at the game, even if the hostesses were there on their own volition, constitutes a secondary violation as NCAA bylaws prohibit "a representative of a university's athletic interest making contact beyond a simple greeting."

UT took the steps to disband the hostess group as it existed and stated its desire to cooperate in full with the NCAA investigation in December.

Earps said Wednesday that she was not instructed by anyone at UT to visit Byrnes. Earps said last month she and other hostesses have been interviewed by the NCAA.

UT is refusing to release any records that might show contact between Kiffin, Reaves or any of Kiffin's staff with the two hostesses who visited the recruits in South Carolina.

The university contends that releasing those records would violate the federal Family Education Rights and Privacy Act, which protects students' educational records.

The News Sentinel had filed a public records request in January seeking coaches' cell phone calls, text messages, instant messages or e-mail between them and any members of the hostess group, and specifically Earps and Johnson.

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