Those who are paying the bills don't seem to mind the negative publicity concerning Tennessee's football program.
In an interview with the News Sentinel on Wednesday, UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said he hasn't received a significant reaction from boosters concerning two highly publicized, potential NCAA violations.
"Not really, no," Hamilton said. "And frankly I'm surprised I haven't heard more, given the depth and the breadth of our fan base . . . I've had a couple of e-mails, a couple of phone calls, but that's about it."
Tennessee is under investigation on at least two fronts.
In one case, two hostesses traveled to Byrnes High School in Duncan, S.C., to see UT defensive end commitments Brandon Willis and Corey Miller play football. If it is determined they went on their own accord, the violation would likely be deemed minor.
UT investigated its own practices when intern Steve Rubio traveled to the high school he attended, St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., along with head coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin and Hamilton have said they don't believe Rubio made contact with any prospects, which would have been an NCAA violation, but likely secondary in nature.
"Five, 10 years ago, secondary violations reports were maybe reported on once a year," Hamilton said, "and it was a record of what happened in the last year, in a secondary-violation manner.
"Now we are writing individual exposes on every single potential secondary violation. The attention to those kinds of things has certainly grown over time."
Hamilton declined to speak at length about the investigation into UT's hostesses, but did offer the following: "Those are not organizations that are housed in the athletic program like they were at one time. Those are organizations that are housed in admissions.
"They have both academic and, in this case, some athletic responsibility. The individuals chosen are chosen by folks outside of athletics. They're policed by folks outside of athletics, and I think in this case this is an isolated incident that much was made of, that has been, frankly, misconstrued and sensationalized way beyond what it was."
Hamilton, however, had expressed a slightly different viewpoint on the allegations than Kiffin, who made comments last week that portrayed the allegations as complimentary because they meant UT was at the top of the recruiting heap.
"I don't think that necessarily is a bad statement," Hamilton said. "I just don't necessarily want us to be in a situation where we are highlighting potential violations. That's not something that I think is in the long run to the benefit for our program.
"We're going to make inadvertent mistakes every now and then, and we are going to deal with those and we are going to report them, but that's not something we want to have as a pattern, and I don't think that's what (Kiffin) was alluding to.
"I think he was alluding to the fact that if we are having success in recruiting then there are going to be those that are going to figure out how they can attack that from a multitude of different angles."
Opposing coaches can attack other schools in a number of ways, including reporting violations to the NCAA or leaking news of violations to the media.
"I don't think that it's beyond reason that might be happening, but also there might be a little conspiracy (theory) to that as well," Hamilton said. "Who knows? If you make yourself a target and you become a target for your success, you're going to have folks that want to tear you down almost in any business in life.
"So that might be out there, but we just need to take care of our own business and just let the rest of that happen."
Hamilton also commented on the national media outlets, which have reported much on the allegations but also played a significant part in UT's recruiting earlier this year by giving the Vols exposure.
"We certainly want that national attention to be all good, (but) we realize that it's not necessarily going to be that way all the time," Hamilton said. "But we'll continue to build relationships with those in the national media."
No Surprise: Hamilton hardly seemed shocked that the Vols have lost two assistant coaches recently: receivers coach Frank Wilson and running backs coach/special teams coordinator Eddie Gran.
Both had a chance for promotions and moved closer to home.
UT's assistant coaches rank among the top paid in the nation. That won't likely change.
"Well I think there is a limit, eventually; but, yeah, we've still got dollars available for Lane to go out and hire the right kind of coaches," Hamilton said.
Some of the money spent on UT's coaches will come from the $15 million UT received from the SEC's television contract, which was signed last year, and largely based on football.
Hamilton pointed out that UT's entire coaching staff, including Kiffin's $2 million annual salary, ranked fourth in the SEC last season.
"We will continue to invest in football to this extent, as that it is the source that is driving most of our revenue in the Tennessee athletic program," Hamilton said.
Close Connection: Hamilton said he doesn't believe Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs cut a deal with the Outback Bowl to usurp UT's bowl positioning.
"The Auburn athletic director is one of my dearest friends in college athletics," Hamilton said. "And I don't think that he would have ever promised a certain number of tickets, and I don't believe the bowl you're referencing made their decision on a basis of the number of tickets sold."
Guaranteeing a certain number of tickets sold is a violation of SEC rules.