It was reported on Saturday afternoon at the beginning of Tennessee’s game against No. 5 Texas A&M that the football program was under NCAA investigation for alleged recruiting violations and impermissible benefits to current student-athletes.
In the report from Fox Sports Knoxville’s Trey Wallace, the NCAA and Tennessee’s own compliance department are involved in the investigation.
A report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach stated that Tennessee compliance department officials have interviewed current players, recruits, assistant coaches, student volunteers and other athletics department officials involved in football recruiting. The sources said the interviews started in November.
ESPN stated that sources indicated to them they weren’t sure whether NCAA officials had interviewed UT student-athletes and coaches, or whether the university had turned over potential violations to the NCAA.
Vols head football coach Jeremy Pruitt was asked about the initial report from Wallace following Tennessee’s 34-13 loss to Texas A&M. Pruitt said that he had not yet seen any articles written.
“I hadn’t seen no article or anything like that,” Pruitt said. “Anytime in college football or college athletics, you have typical compliance stuff. That is all I know.”
Tennessee backup quarterback Brian Maurer and starting running back Eric Gray were held out of Saturday’s game against Texas A&M, but there was no reason given for their absence. Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley and running backs coach Jay Graham were also missing.
The alleged violations involve current Tennessee players along with recruits. There are multiple assistant coaches, staffers and players who have been questioned as part of the investigation. Wallace’s report specifically named inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer.
“In keeping with our institutional commitment to compliance, we often look closely at regulatory issues that are brought to our attention via internal or external channels,” athletic department spokesperson Tom Satkowiak told Wallace and ESPN in a statement. “Maintaining compliance is a shared responsibility, and active monitoring is part of that process.”
Tennessee’s 2020 regular season came to an end with its loss to the Aggies on senior day. It’s unclear whether or not the Vols will play in a bowl game.
To the person who writes the headlines, your headline should have been written “Why was Eric Gray unavailable for the Vols against Texas A&M?” Not why Eric Gray was unavailable. The disparity could have been corrected if your article actually said specifically why he was unavailable.