NCAA investigating Brown's eligibility

Top freshman prospect Bryce Brown makes a breakaway run during the University of Tennessee football team's first official practice.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Top freshman prospect Bryce Brown makes a breakaway run during the University of Tennessee football team's first official practice.

Bryce Brown is part of an ongoing NCAA investigation to confirm the Tennessee tailback’s amateur status, head coach Lane Kiffin revealed on Tuesday.

Kiffin said Brown is eligible but said he doesn’t know if Brown will be eligible for UT’s season opener against Western Kentucky on Sept. 5.

“They can rule whenever they want,” a visibly frustrated Kiffin said following practice.

At question is money raised for Brown and other players to attend football camps while Brown was a sophomore at Wichita (Kan.) East High School, Kiffin said. The investigation has been ongoing since at least February.

Tennessee’s recruitment of Brown is not part of the investigation, Kiffin said. Neither is the recruitment from any other school.

“I think it’s a gigantic distraction,” Kiffin said of the amateurism issue.

Kiffin said the practice of raising money for high school players to attend camps is common. Kiffin said five or six other high school players also were involved with the fund raising.

“None of them are dealing with this but him,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin seemed to be alluding to Brown’s superstar-like status in recruiting circles as reason why he may be a target.

This isn’t the first time that someone close to Brown has made that claim nor is it the first time Brown has been part of an NCAA investigation.

Brown’s advisor throughout the recruiting process, Brian Butler, also cited Brown’s popularity when his relationship with Brown was questioned in February.

“I’m definitely disappointed, but I’m not surprised,” Butler told the Wichita Eagle. “Bryce is the No. 1 player in the country. They just want to make sure everything is on the up and up. That’s not a problem.”

Brown was one of the most talked-about prospects in the nation when he signed with UT over Clemson, LSU, Missouri, Oregon and Miami in March, more than a month after National Signing Day in February.

Brown and Butler were even featured in the New York Times in the midst of the NCAA investigation.

“If the NCAA comes, then I’ll give them any information they want that’s available,” Butler told the Times.

Butler drew the ire of the NCAA when he charged fans to read updates about prospects, including Brown, on his Web site. Butler stopped charging for the updates soon after the NCAA stepped in.

It is unclear how involved Butler may be in the current investigation.

Brown, who moved to Knoxville a month before enrolling at UT in June, has another issue to deal with before he gets back on the field. The 6-foot, 215-pounder was sidelined Monday with a hip injury.

Brown returned to the field in full pads Tuesday but did not participate in practice, instead riding a recumbent bike on the sideline. Kiffin said an MRI performed Tuesday was clear.

“We think he’s going to be OK,” Kiffin said, referring to the hip injury. “We think he’ll be able to do some stuff (Wednesday). He couldn’t do anything today. His hip was pretty tight.”

The timing couldn’t have been worse, Kiffin said, as Brown was beginning to establish himself in UT’s tailback rotation. Kiffin said Brown’s last four practices were his best as a Vol.

“He had a great scrimmage and then we continue to get news that the NCAA is continuing to investigate him and his whole history going back to when he was young,” Kiffin said. “I know that that bothers him. It’s pretty unfortunate.”

Brown capped the strong four-practice string with 57 yards on 10 carries and 27 yards on three receptions in Saturday’s scrimmage. The performance was even more impressive when Kiffin reviewed the practice tape.

“He didn’t have very many big holes when he was running,” Kiffin said. “He made a lot out of a little. He was extremely physical — extremely great mentality out there. You saw him run people over and pop right up.”

Kiffin said he was so excited that he texted Brown late Saturday night after the scrimmage.

“(I) told him that he was really going on the right track and he was really going to be special,” Kiffin said, recalling his text.

Kiffin said he expects Brown to return from the hip injury soon. The Vols have Wednesday off before returning to practice Thursday and Friday. UT’s scrimmage Saturday is considered the most important of preseason camp.

“He’s a competitor,” Kiffin said of Brown. “He’ll be back out there.”

Brown isn’t available for interviews as per UT’s media policy on freshmen. Kiffin, however, made an impromptu defense on his star player’s behalf — just in case the NCAA might be listening.

“He’s a great kid,” Kiffin said. “He had a 3.6 (grade-point average) in high school and graduated early. I think he has a 3.7 here so far.

“It’s very upsetting for him and for all of us.”

Get Copyright Permissions © 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2009 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 204

Jesus_Quintana writes:

First. Wow.

davethevol writes:

You gotta be kidding me.

AppraisalVol writes:

What the ...

BhamVol writes:

Yuck. Here we go...

mjw2e writes:

#@&%. Choose your own explitive.

Txvol57 writes:

Glad to know that UT was not involved...but I still blame Brain Butler..he's shady

davethevol writes:

So if someone helped raise money for him to attend camps, does that mean he can't play collegiate ball?

xvolx writes:

sounds like some money passing over the palm at the ncaa. Can you say Miami.

username writes:

"At question is money raised for Brown and other players to attend football camps while in high school"

Which other players were involved?

ROCKYTOP10ECVOL writes:

I don't need to wait on The Witch Dr. to read the Bones to see this isn't good. Dog Gone it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

piledriver writes:

I knew he was too true to be good.

one7vols writes:

this will be over next week. just a distraction boys.

NGage writes:

I wonder just who it was that prompted this investigation? One of our rivals maybe?

glemmons writes:

No!!!!!!!!!!

SeanJean writes:

Fantastic.

imw8n4u writes:

At the rate the NCAA moves on these things, we will find out if he's elegible about the time he declares he is foregoing his senior year to enter the NFL draft.

orange_glory writes:

Didn't Bryce hire Mr. Butler to help him with recruiting issues/advice. If Bryce paid this man to help him then why can't someone help Bryce with some gas money or something.

GreenDevilVol writes:

Wonder why they haven't investigated his brother in Miami.If,If, this was money coming from Joe Smoe, there is nothing that the NCAA can do.

Many programs do the "Money Making Things" there is no difference.If it were boosters of various schools giving Bryce money,and scratching his palms to go to a certain school; thats a BIG NO,NO !!

StopSayingFirst writes:

I demand to know the other players.

Volinsider writes:

He would neither make or break our season. I hate it for him though. I hope his "handler" gets busted if he was behind it...Idiot!

landerson1 writes:

When Miami of all schools ended their recruitment of this guy and he suddenly jumped in with us I was uncomfortable that there were some issues related to this guy. Think about Miami's situation their coach is one year from being fired. If he landed this "big fish" recruit it would have done alot to keep the faithful happy for another year or two but he took the high road because he smelt a rat. Kiffin knew he needed a spark and was willing to take any chance to improve his situation at any cost. Hope that he had the best interest of UT in mind.

bigorange61 writes:

in response to davethevol:

So if someone helped raise money for him to attend camps, does that mean he can't play collegiate ball?

Dave, my question would be does raising money for him to attend camps affect his amateur status. If he lose amateur status, he can't play collegiate ball. That's just my opinion.

GreenDevilVol writes:

in response to GreenDevilVol:

Wonder why they haven't investigated his brother in Miami.If,If, this was money coming from Joe Smoe, there is nothing that the NCAA can do.

Many programs do the "Money Making Things" there is no difference.If it were boosters of various schools giving Bryce money,and scratching his palms to go to a certain school; thats a BIG NO,NO !!

Besides, if this money was divvied up "amongst all the players"; to attend camps, then the "money" was not intended for "one player only"

warriorman86#667191 writes:

Simply schocking.

cmoore7 writes:

Told you we didn't "need" him for the first two.

GreenDevilVol writes:

in response to bigorange61:

Dave, my question would be does raising money for him to attend camps affect his amateur status. If he lose amateur status, he can't play collegiate ball. That's just my opinion.

Losing amateur status would mean "SIGNING with an AGENT" !!!!!!!!

orange_glory writes:

in response to Jamestown17:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

BINGO

Joevolsxtra writes:

POOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cloudodust writes:

Who gives these kids advice..? Question #1 to a recruit : Has anybody given you money, cars or women in the past 6 months..?

orange_glory writes:

So I guess Tennessee getting Bryce was more an issue of Miami not wanting him anymore. To hear Lane Kiffin talk we got him because of our great University. So does this make us or Bryce look desperate

StroVol writes:

in response to DeltaCharlie:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Delta.........fly away

tums writes:

in response to davethevol:

So if someone helped raise money for him to attend camps, does that mean he can't play collegiate ball?

It sounds like it, but if this is true, then 90% of players wont be eligible.

Voluvr writes:

Nothing big boys.

blitzshoot writes:

Article left more questions than answers. How was the money raised and who managed the money? What camps were involved and was UT/coaches/boosters associated with any of the camps?

StroVol writes:

Hope my daughter can play soccer this year. She sold a sh.t pot of candy for her team this spring.

orange_glory writes:

I think Bryce will be a great player if he gets to play but are we getting someone elses sloppy seconds. This whole thing if it turns out bad takes all the luster out of getting the #1 recruit in the land and drops us out of the top 10 for 2009 class

KtownPlaya writes:

First my boy JaJuan gets arrested and now this. All da playa's are slowly leaving k-town. Nothing wrong with BB trying to get his... If Bryce had chosen Florida, the NCAA wouldn't even be looking at this.

FWBVol writes:

I question what, in the eyes of the NCAA, is the difference between a family friend giving a kid some money and the community raising money for them to attend the same camp.

I can see some sort of violation if a school booster gave him $50 for each TD or a dollar for each rushing yard, but not this.

It seems to have reached the point where each incoming high school freshman in any sport has to take a course on the NCAA rules and what is or isn't acceptable for him to do the next four years of high school.

davethevol writes:

in response to orange_glory:

So I guess Tennessee getting Bryce was more an issue of Miami not wanting him anymore. To hear Lane Kiffin talk we got him because of our great University. So does this make us or Bryce look desperate

From what I remember, Miami still wanted him. They did publicly get tired of his handler though as did other schools, including UT.

Major_Magilicutty writes:

in response to volzone919:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Don't kid yourself...plenty of college athletes take money. Schools all over the country, including the SEC, find shady workarounds to line the pockets of prospects. The difference here is that someone from the outside wanted a piece of the action.

I don't argue for exceptions, just that it's a very real situation in NCAA sports.

SEC__Headgear writes:

Where is Slive when you need him? We need a real commish!

orange_glory writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I question what, in the eyes of the NCAA, is the difference between a family friend giving a kid some money and the community raising money for them to attend the same camp.

I can see some sort of violation if a school booster gave him $50 for each TD or a dollar for each rushing yard, but not this.

It seems to have reached the point where each incoming high school freshman in any sport has to take a course on the NCAA rules and what is or isn't acceptable for him to do the next four years of high school.

Bingo

john#208876 writes:

Here come all the chicken littles out of the closet again. This thing will be resolved by the end of the week, worst case senario he has to pay back a few hundred bucks. Chill.

lomas98 writes:

Was this his "hip injury" that took him off the field yesterday.

warriorman86#667191 writes:

Hyams says Brown will likely get a 1 game suspension.

Orangeblood13 writes:

must read the bones

utkjoe29 writes:

Miami gave Brown a cutoff date to sign a LOI, when they didn't receive it, that's when they cooled on Brown.. not to mention the 20 other schools that still wanted Brown..

Kevinyaheard writes:

If nothing has happened with Reggie Bush actually recieving money to play in college (alledgedly), why should we be worried?? GO VOLS!!

DennisVols writes:

This has NOTHING to do with Brown's handler. It is an issue the NCAA has decided to investigate concerning money that was raised to help players who did not have the finanical means to attend some football camp.
The question should be raised as to why the NCAA would have a rule that would make a player ineligible to play college sports because a charity raised some money to help a kid.
Lets be real here he wasn't paid to attend a camp nor was he singled out for this charity that raised money to attend a football camp for petes sake.
I do wonder however who tipped the NCAA off on this and just when did they get this tip?
Keeping it Real
Go Vols!!!

davethevol writes:

in response to ThePhantom_96_06_08:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fulmer did NOT run a clean program. I knew some of the football players as well as managers of the team (one of which was one of the coach's sons). There was all sorts of shady stuff that went on that he was aware of. The kind of stuff that the majority of people don't realize goes on in major football programs and would never believe it if they were told of it.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features