The University of Tennessee's football program has considered itself clean since June.
But the NCAA is ultimately the judge of that, and it's in the process of closely inspecting the Vols.
UT hasn't self-reported any secondary recruiting violations since head football coach Lane Kiffin's sixth in June, but following a report by the New York Times into an alleged misuse of a hostess program, UT's recruiting techniques are under the microscope.
UT acknowledged an NCAA investigation is ongoing and the focus is largely on Orange Pride, a group mostly comprised of female students and responsible for entertaining recruits on campus visits, among other duties.
Some hostesses are accused of visiting recruits at high school games outside of the state, which would be a potential NCAA violation for representatives of the school.
"The University of Tennessee confirms that there is an NCAA review under way," the university and the UT Men's Athletic Department said in a joint press release. "University Administration and Athletics are cooperating fully.
"We are concerned about the alleged activities of some members of the Orange Pride. Both university and NCAA guidelines are a part of the Orange Pride's orientation and training. If those guidelines were violated, we will take appropriate action."
The NCAA could also be looking to take action, particularly if it's able to prove the Athletic Department was responsible for a trip like the one reported by the Times.
According to the report, some hostesses drove about three hours to a game involving three potential Vols in Duncan, S.C., and brought signs with them - including one that said, "Come to Tennessee."
That apparently wasn't enough to sway highly touted running back Marcus Lattimore. Two of his teammates at Byrnes High School, Brandon Willis and Corey Miller, had previously given verbal commitments to play for the Vols.
"I haven't seen no other schools do that," Lattimore told the Times. "It's crazy."
It's also not permissible, according to NCAA rules, though exactly what sort of impact it could have on the Vols remains unclear.
Kiffin was unavailable on Wednesday. NCAA policy is to not comment on investigations. UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton hasn't issued any public comments since confirming the investigation on Tuesday night to the Times, but a news conference is being held today - previously scheduled to focus on UT's bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
In line with past NCAA rulings, an incident like the alleged trip to South Carolina might at worst be deemed a secondary violation if Kiffin and his staff had no knowledge of the event.
Each of the previous six secondary violations reported by UT was specifically listed in the contract Kiffin signed in October, along with a stipulation that he advise the school "immediately of any actual knowledge of or reasonable cause to believe that violations of NCAA, SEC or university rules and regulations have occurred or are occurring."
A UT spokesperson confirmed that there is a rules orientation process for Orange Pride members every spring.
Regardless of who did or didn't know about the trip, or what exactly a cardboard sign might have had written on it, a rule appears to have been broken. And the NCAA is sorting it out, starting with a chat today in Georgia with UT commit JaWaun James and his parents about possible violations during his recruitment.
"It seems to me they're trying to act like Tennessee had something to do with that," said Charles Willis, the father of recruit Brandon. "I don't believe Tennessee had something to do with that."
Austin Ward may be reached at 865-342-6274.