Photo shows hostesses with UT recruits

Orange Pride pair brought sign to game, but didn't wear UT apparel

Tennessee Media Guide photo of hostesses.

UTSports.com

Tennessee Media Guide photo of hostesses.

A photograph that surfaced Friday captures the crux of the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into Tennessee’s alleged misuse of recruiting hostess.

The picture, taken by SI.com reporter Andy Staples, provides identification of the two hostesses who traveled nearly 200 miles to Duncan, S.C., on Sept. 25 to watch UT commitments Brandon Willis and Corey Miller of Byrnes High School play in a football game against Gaffney.

Tennessee football recruits Corey Miller, left and Brandon Willis pose with Tennessee recruiting hostesses Dahra Johnson (left) and Lacey Earps after a game at Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., on Sept. 25.

Photo by Andy Staples

Tennessee football recruits Corey Miller, left and Brandon Willis pose with Tennessee recruiting hostesses Dahra Johnson (left) and Lacey Earps after a game at Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., on Sept. 25.

The UT hostesses in the photo have been identified as Lacey Earps and Dahra Johnson. Both are members of the Orange Pride, a group mostly comprised of female students and responsible for entertaining recruits on campus visits, among other duties. Earps is listed as captain of Orange Pride.

Attempts to reach Earps and Johnson on Friday were unsuccessful.

UT assistant athletic director for public relations Tiffany Carpenter declined to comment.

A Twitter account belonging to Earps no longer was available Friday, but her Myspace page still existed. Johnson’s Facebook page was still active.

If they attended the game as members of Orange Pride it would be a violation of NCAA rules since they are considered UT representatives and must adhere to the same standards and limitations of contact with prospects as football coaches.

The severity of the violation is dependent upon whether or not the hostesses were directed to attend the game by UT’s football department.

If the two attended the game on their own volition, the transgression would likely be considered a secondary violation.

The picture, which was taken on the field after the game, shows Earps and Johnson posing with Miller and Willis.

The picture provides visual proof of the News Sentinel’s report on Wednesday that neither girl was dressed in UT apparel or holding a sign that said “Come to Tennessee” as The New York Times first reported.

Johnson is wearing a blue dress. Earps is wearing a dark orange outfit.

The two are holding a poster board sign that reads “Miller and Willis have our hearts …” The word “hearts” is written in orange. The other words are written in a variety of colors.

Charles Miller, the father of Corey Miller, told the News Sentinel on Wednesday that “nobody put these girls on these boys” and maintained Earps and Johnson came as fans, not UT representatives.

Charles Miller said his son and Willis “became friends” with Earps and Johnson when they visited UT’s campus in June.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton has acknowledged an NCAA investigation, but technically the Vols have not received an official letter of inquiry, which would detail what the NCAA would be looking at specifically.

UT coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday he was not aware of any recruiting violations involving his staff.

The NCAA was in Suwanee, Ga., at North Gwinnett High on Thursday to interview offensive linemen Ja’Wuan James and Austin Shepherd about their relationship with Orange Pride. James is committed to UT. Shepherd is committed to Alabama.

Staples said that he didn’t have access to his camera until Friday, which is why the picture didn’t surface until two days after the initial report.

“I attended the Byrnes game between covering the South Carolina-Ole Miss game Sept. 24 in Columbia, S.C., and the Alabama-Arkansas game Sept. 26 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.,” Staples explained in his story. “The following week, Byrnes was set to play Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 high school teams in the nation, and I had been assigned to gather material for an advance story. After watching Miller and Willis dominate that night, I interviewed them and took several pictures, hoping to get a usable headshot that could run with any future story. One of the photos happened to be of the players with the hostesses. I did not know who the women were at the time, and did not put two and two together until the Times published its story.”

The two players verbally committed to UT before the hostesses traveled to watch them play. Miller and Willis committed to UT over dozens of scholarship offers. Both are considered two of the top 100 prospects in the nation.

Read more at SI.com.

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Comments » 189

ktm589 writes:

Give it a rest already!!!!!!!

Major_Magilicutty writes:

bleh.

wags32 writes:

Whoopty doo! Sounds like there is nothing wrong with that according to the guidelines! good news.

govols26 writes:

Yea we know they were there, thanks. The question is whether or not the coaches knew they were at the game. This photo proves nothing.

chrisw2967 writes:

This is getting old , we knew they were there but the sign sure doesnt read "come to tenn" like the NYT said.they were already committed.KNS thinks they are up to date on this.I seen this early this morning and here it is 5:28.

chrisw2967 writes:

in response to BolivarBob:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

we were thinking alike bob

volniac writes:

Based on this pic i dont see the big deal.. They arent even wearing anything showing UT!!!!

volatil writes:

Theses girls work for the admissions office not the athletic department as reported by SI. How many ways can they beat this poor horse?

tractoronthepole writes:

I expect to see an article like this on gatorsports.com or al.com. Its ok to rehash what the times has written, why don't you rehash what Kiffen said? Is it so difficult for you to report everything or just the negative?

crimsonviper writes:

So sports illusustratsd has joined the witch hunt now?...whatever sells I guess.

RavenzRule writes:

So how did SI and the New York Times get this scoop?

It's funny that since Kiffin took over and had a rift with Meyer that reports of wrong doings pop up every other day. They just keep at it until they get him so it's just a matter of time.

TooLegit2Quit writes:

In short, get better material whoever fed the NYT guy the story. You are going to have to try harder if you want to derail the Lane Train! As for the NCAA, you are an absolute joke.

volatil writes:

in response to crimsonviper:

So sports illusustratsd has joined the witch hunt now?...whatever sells I guess.

Meanwhile, LSU coach pays recruits on page 18 just behind the dog track results from Thursday.

spvol writes:

SO???

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

These girls look really guilty. You see how they are trying to hide their faces when the SI photographer is going for a picture? What does that tell you?

WhitePineVol77 writes:

Hey...this publicity may be better for us than no publicity. UT has HOT women! Last time I checked, it was not illegal by NCAA standards for this to occur unless they delivered drugs, had sex, delivered cash...I doubt any of those things happened.

wags32 writes:

in response to allVolinGA:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You just posted a lot of speculation!!! The sighn does not say come to Tenn like reported. So the only question remaining is who knew they were there you are right. I am gonna go with Lane on this they are nervous!!!!!!!

volatil writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's on the grassy knoll along with the magic bullet. Back and to the left.

metalhead223 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

agreed, so what? sign doesn't say come to TN.

Man must have been a slow sports day around the country.

wags32 writes:

in response to steamboatticket#484773:

These girls look really guilty. You see how they are trying to hide their faces when the SI photographer is going for a picture? What does that tell you?

If you cannot come up with a better post than that stay outta here you look like a idiot. LOL!

metalhead223 writes:

bigger question is......

can we get those gals in the SI swimsuit edition?

LMAO

wags32 writes:

in response to volatil:

It's on the grassy knoll along with the magic bullet. Back and to the left.

lol! They post these articles like there is something bad in them and they just confirm with the articles that it is a bunch of made up phooey. Like Lane said they will come after us!!!!!!!! Haters. It will not work Ha Ha.

wags32 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your right! Sorry! this is just so stupid the whole thing is a joke how anyone can make something out of this is a joke. Desperation?

GreenbackMike writes:

in response to beersheebavol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think he meant anyone that matters. So the answer would really be umm... Hell No! If I were dating a High School Basketball Star and I went to UT, if Pat was recruiting her does that mean I can't go to her games? Just curious

281Vol writes:

The one on the right looks pretty good. I'd like to see a picture of what she was doing two hours after this picture was taken.

steamboatticket#484773 writes:

Doc, this picture has me some kind of worried. According to the best authorities at the New York Times, that sign says "Come to Tennessee." So that must be what the sign says. But here I've been squinting until I feel the crows feet, trying to see "Come to Tennessee." I could not see it, and was thinking that maybe I should get my eyes checked and then I was considerable worried about what kind of bad news the doctor might tell me, because the eye-bone is connected to the head-bone, etc., etc., etc. So I am not the only one who cannot see those words? All of this worry cannot be good. According to the New York Times, I am supposed to be seeing something that I cannot see!

metalhead223 writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

can't unfolded it to cover the meatloaf I made and shoved in the fridge. You know WD this is getting to the point that it's funny and laughable, the best the NCAA has is pretty young girls talking to recruits? Please... Seems folks are a little scared of teh big orange right now and are digging in concrete.

thevoice writes:

Is that a rabbit or a heart drawn around "Hearts?" I think this could be very important.

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to ThatCat:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I hear one from Murfreesboro and one from Atlanta, but that's just rumor...

It appears to me that poor Mr. Thamel's story has more holes in it than swiss cheese....
Lawyer up, girls, the NYT is about to give a big payout!

thevoice writes:

I think the NCAA needs to look at Corey Miller's face. Does that look like a face that was positively influenced from Ms. Johnson? Fraid not. Let it go guys!!!

sampears writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Gr8 point witch doctor....the sign does not say come to tennessee!!!!! LOL! Right again...

RCVOLIN10 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pdiddy10 writes:

THIS DOESNT MEAN ANYTHING!!! THE QUESTION IS, WERE THE COACHES INVOLVED??? IDIOTS! THIS DOESNT MATTER!!! PLUS THE SIGN DOESNT SAY COME TO UT DOES IT? NO IDIOTS!!! STOP PICKING ON US AND GO AWAY!!! IT IS CHEATING TO PAY REFS!!! urban meyer

RCVOLIN10 writes:

in response to FEARinSEC:

I hear one from Murfreesboro and one from Atlanta, but that's just rumor...

It appears to me that poor Mr. Thamel's story has more holes in it than swiss cheese....
Lawyer up, girls, the NYT is about to give a big payout!

The blonde is from the boro, blackman high school to be exact.

great2batnvol writes:

Who gives a phooey about this garbage? Boys and girls this is not the old regime and the SEC elite know that and they are feeling the heat in recruting. Enough of the he said she said phooey and let's stay focused cause rest of SEC knows it better get it's shots in now. IT'S ON!!! What a chicken phooey witch hunt and this garbage is yesterday's news. NCAA needs to be worrying about some true issues vs this garbage. Give it a break already and GO VOLS!!!

volsmanning16 writes:

didn't they also say that there was coaches from S.C and Ga. scouting the game! that figures! guess we found the little yellow canary!

volatil writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Doc are you going to the Sommet Center tonight?

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If the sign doesn't fit, NCAA must acquit!!

volatil writes:

in response to FEARinSEC:

If the sign doesn't fit, NCAA must acquit!!

Since the NYT can't read no need to plead.

FEARinSEC writes:

in response to Witch_Doctor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Already taken care of that, WD.

sigmundoooz#264365 writes:

What this photo shows is that most of the principal "facts" of the NYTimes article were a total fabrication. The guy that wrote the article is named Thamel and he and his NYTimes sports editor boss were students back in 1998 at Syracuse when UT went up there and beat Syracuse to open the 1998 season. They both wrote articles for the Syracuse student paper about how the officials cheated to help Tennessee win. Fast forward to 2009. Guess who broke the story about Tennessee's possible violations in recruiting Bryce Brown... Thamel. Guess who flew all the way from New York to Gainesville to talk to Coach Urban Meyer to write a story with the much publicized Urban Meyer quote about "they weren't trying to win"... Thamel. Does anyone else smell something fishy here. That is pretty intense to carry a grudge for 11 years over a football game.

smokyredbone writes:

Already established they were at the game!!!! Nothing on that sign says UT on it, Players invited them during summer camp to come to a game,WTF!!! Girls wearing Blue and Orange, maybe Gators,lol!!!

rocky_topper writes:

what is obvious to me is that Lattimore is a liar being that he publicly said the sign had said "come to tennessee"! this is what this is all about?

dan brooks is a tool!

Gyno_American writes:

And that's the best we can do for hostesses? Blech.

knoxfalcons writes:

in response to allVolinGA:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have that same dress (bought it at the Limited) and Im a 32 year old mom who NEVER watches football.In person its not sunny orange,like the Vol's colors,its more of a burnt orange with red in it.As for the blue dress,that was a very popular color this year in women's clothes. So your theory of what it "signaled" is,well....PHOOEY.
Miller's father said in an article yesterday that his son became friends with the girls when he visited UT,and they kept in contact.Nothing wrong as far as I can see with her going to visit him.I seriously doubt this young lady feigned a friendship with this boy on the say-so of UT....would make a great movie script tho.

rocky_topper writes:

in response to thevoice:

Is that a rabbit or a heart drawn around "Hearts?" I think this could be very important.

If it is a rabbit, look for PETA to jump into the hunt before Monday! It's gonna get ugly!

BTree4UT writes:

Lane has everyone running scared!!! We have a top 5 recruiting class as of now, so our opponents will do anything to bring this class down. Houston Nutt has had as many secondary violations as us over the last few months, but you hear nothing about him!!! Lane says what everyone else wishes they had said, so he gets the heat! Just remember, the air is cooler at on the mountain top, which is where we are headed!

VOLoom writes:

in response to GreenbackMike:

I think he meant anyone that matters. So the answer would really be umm... Hell No! If I were dating a High School Basketball Star and I went to UT, if Pat was recruiting her does that mean I can't go to her games? Just curious

Has a UT basketball star ever dated anyone from Greenback? Just curious.

rab writes:

Maybe these girls could recruit some college football game officials.

volatil writes:

in response to Volville:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

see ya.

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