UT reported secondary violation to NCAA after players were treated as VIPs

36 athletes were not required to pay cover charges at bar

Bar Knoxville  on Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville. The bar is on the edge of the University of Tennessee Campus in a part of Cumberland Avenue called 'The Strip.'

Photo by J. Miles Cary

Bar Knoxville on Cumberland Avenue in Knoxville. The bar is on the edge of the University of Tennessee Campus in a part of Cumberland Avenue called "The Strip."

Thirty-six University of Tennessee male student-athletes were treated as “VIPs” from May to July at a Cumberland Avenue bar that was brought to light after a summer brawl involving numerous football players, according to the athletic department’s self-report of a secondary violation to the NCAA.

The student-athletes, 26 of whom were football players, were not required to pay cover charges on Thursday nights at Bar Knoxville when other patrons were required to pay $5-$10, depending on their age.

The News Sentinel learned of the secondary violation for improper benefits through an open records request to the university.

The secondary violation, coupled with another self-reported transgression involving improper electric transmissions, constitute the first known violations involving the UT football team since Derek Dooley took over as coach in January. Under Lane Kiffin in 2009, the Vols committed at least six secondary violations.

The in-house investigation — which was spearheaded by assistant athletic director Todd Dooley, who interviewed 34 of the 36 athletes and the bar’s co-owners, Allen and Sandy Morton — was prompted by Sandy Morton’s comments to reporters in the wake of a July 9 brawl that involved a number of football players and resulted in two arrests. Morton said the student-athletes were “VIPs” at the bar, which meant they did not have to pay a cover charge.

Although the bar also permitted other patrons, including all females and friends of bouncers, to enter free of charge, the policy constituted a violation of NCAA bylaw 12.1.2.1.6 because “the benefit was not advertised or provided to all UT students,” according to Todd Dooley’s report.

According to the bylaw, student-athletes are not permitted to receive preferential treatment, benefits or services “because of the individual’s athletics reputation or skill or pay-back potential as a professional athlete, unless such treatment, benefits or services are specifically permitted under NCAA legislation.”

None of the athletes involved received more than $70 in benefits, according to the report. Because none received more than $100 in benefits, the athletes were briefly declared ineligible until they paid back their share to a charity.

All football players involved paid back what they owed before the Sept. 4 season opener against UT Martin, according to the report. As of Sept. 3, when Todd Dooley filed the report, UT was still collecting money and planned to donate it to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

UT, citing the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, redacted all mentions of specific athletes in the documents provided to the News Sentinel.

Derek Dooley and men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl have both banned their players from attending Bar Knoxville since the July 9 incident, which left a Knoxville police officer unconscious, sent another patron to the hospital for multiple injuries and resulted in sophomore safety Darren Myles’ dismissal from the football team.

Freshman wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers was originally charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, but both charges have since been dismissed.

According to the report, the Mortons had implemented the VIP program “at least the past two years” and did so in accordance with “various groups and individuals in the community.” None of the 34 athletes whom Todd Dooley interviewed said he was treated as a VIP before May 2010, and all corroborated that they did not receive free or reduced priced food or drinks.

The Mortons were able to provide only May 2010-July 2010 attendance records.

Todd Dooley re-interviewed 10 of the athletes because they were either upperclassmen or had their names appear on the list “several times.” One basketball player, upon second thought, believed he might have received free admission “on two or three occasions over the past two years,” while the other nine stuck to their first account.

A common response from these athletes, according to the report, was that they “just heard of the ‘VIP program’ ” starting in May 2010.

Several of the athletes stated that they did not believe they had attended the bar as many times as their names appeared on the lists, which were printed and did not include signatures. Todd Dooley wrote that other, non-student athletes may have told bouncers that they were a certain student-athlete in order to receive “VIP” treatment, while it also appeared that “several individuals signed as student-athletes who were not actually student-athletes.”

The report concluded that the Mortons did not meet the definition of a “representative of its athletic interests” at the time because “no institutional member had or should have had knowledge of the ‘VIP’ program, the bar owners are not donors/booster club members, do not assist in recruiting or promote the athletics program.” The Mortons are now considered as such, according to the report, and have since received a cease and desist letter from the UT compliance office.

A member of UT’s compliance office attended a Cumberland Avenue Merchants Association meeting in September to “provide NCAA rules education.” That representative will continue to meet with the group on a semi-annual basis.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble.

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Comments » 68

Orangeatang writes:

We need to get our sh#! together.

rockytopnation16 writes:

Man they are just looking for something

WhitePineVol77 writes:

This is BS...at the very worst, make each player pay back the $5 or $10 cover to the establishment, then move on.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

Why does the Knox media feel like they have to exploit secondary violations? Most other schools media DOES NOT do this!

I read your tweet Briblle, and you could not wait to get this story out there! What is wrong with you people? I do appreciate a free site to chat with my friends, but all of these continuous stories that bring out negativities, are just getting plain RIDICULOUS!

TennCup writes:

Isn't this the self-reported material?

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to WhitePineVol77:

This is BS...at the very worst, make each player pay back the $5 or $10 cover to the establishment, then move on.

You got that right WhitePineVol...pure BS!

GerryOP writes:

Soooo ... since all females got VIP treatment, does that mean that female UT student-athletes getting VIP treatment would not be in violation of NCAA rules? Hmmmm .... gender discrimination against middle-class-front-porch-American-males?

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to TennCup:

Isn't this the self-reported material?

Yes it is, but they always have to BLOW things up!

CoverOrange writes:

The NCAA should require every university to offer a 5 hour class on NCAA rules and every student athlete should be required to take it. How can these athletes not know the simplest of rules?

govols87 writes:

congrats on rehashing a secondary violation that was reported nearly 6 months ago. bravo. now Chris Low will copy/paste a few of your quotes to his blog, then the website will put up a pic of Dooley with a mid-game look of disgust upon his face, on the front page of ESPN.com, and tout it as some sort of major violation. then it will scroll on the crawler for several days.

ah, sensationalism. you guys ever thought about HELPING the athletic program? just curious.

GerryOP writes:

Way to dig out the nitty gritty dirty details KNS. Does that mean you are a part of the cure ... or are you a part of the disease?

volnxile writes:

in related news, 36 vols got "VIP" treatment at the local Kroger's by getting double off coupons. NCAA to investigate. unnamed sources at the NCAA home office say this out of control behavior runs afoul of the NCAA's ability to earn 100's of millions dollars annually generated by amature athletes nationwide

crockett1836 writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Invited high school juniors to a bar-b-que (with their parents). Tremendous violation. You realize it's ok if they're seniors, right? Whatever school you pull for, feel free to dig deep...I'm sure you'll find something worse. How about Calamari at UK? He's destroyed two programs....Maryland/Memphis (helped Derrick Rose falsify an SAT).

alvol writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your post indicates you have selected an appropriate user name. Congratulations!

keepitreal4vols writes:

A $5 cover chage comp is a violation but a $180,000 bribe gets you nothing. The NCAA is a circus.

HallowedHill writes:

Personally, I've never refused free entry to any bar in Knoxville. If that's what the NCAA thinks is fair, I'm sure Coach Dooley can handle it.

GO VOLS!

Volchief writes:

Bring on the troll haters. Here's looking at you Nobrainer. You worthless POS troll! I have no idea who your team is but I take great offense in the comments that you post when you use terms like "retards" and "inbreeds". This story is of secondary violations that have already been addressed yet Gribble just now reports on. I am a UT fan but will never be a "black sheep follower" as you state. I support my team and our coaches. Mistakes have been made and I pray they get corrected, but for your self-righteous, pretentious azz to get on here and talk that kinda smack is simply ridiculous. I will admit that some Vols fans can make some unwarranted claims and look petty at times; however, for you to come on this site and proclaim that all Vol fans are retarded and inbred simply makes my blood boil. And I assure you that if I ever saw you in public and heard you make those claims I might lose my cool, which never, ever happens. Sorry, to my fellow Vol comrades because I rarely get this heated on this website, but the comment made by Nobrainer was simply over the top

orangecountyvols writes:

Z1, aka the stalker..............as Preborn most aptly said.............

off to bed troll.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

The NCAA should require every university to offer a 5 hour class on NCAA rules and every student athlete should be required to take it. How can these athletes not know the simplest of rules?

UAVol, have you ever read the entire volumes and volumes of NCAA rules? I haven't either. You make a good point, however, it would have to be a 8hr class, every semester, all four years or up until graduation. Then they would have to go to post grad school to get up to date with all of the stupid rule/interpretations that the NCAA makes at their convienece.

Depending on what they will do to CBP and what they did about Cam Newton, I'm sure there will be more changes coming.

utjunkie writes:

That night club probably knew it was a violation also, but what do they care as long as the crowds keep comming. The University can't keep night clubs or rogue boosters from paying or giving benefits to players, but they are held accountable by the ncaa. Thats wrong but what can you do?

lomas98 writes:

Free entry to a bar for athletes happened when I was in school at the Lap and Library. Wasn't a big deal then. In fact, I'm glad facebook, cell phone cameras, twitter, etc. was not around then. Who knows who would have been suspended for games during the national championship year.

VolunteerLifer writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

The NCAA should require every university to offer a 5 hour class on NCAA rules and every student athlete should be required to take it. How can these athletes not know the simplest of rules?

Are you kidding? You expect the players to know all the nitty gritty of all of the myriad of ncaa rules? Are you also gonna expect them to know the US tax code?

Now I grant you they should have - and no doubt did - suspect that getting favorable treatment from this bar was against the rules. they should have asked their coaches. I agree they bear some of the responsibility here.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to Volchief:

Bring on the troll haters. Here's looking at you Nobrainer. You worthless POS troll! I have no idea who your team is but I take great offense in the comments that you post when you use terms like "retards" and "inbreeds". This story is of secondary violations that have already been addressed yet Gribble just now reports on. I am a UT fan but will never be a "black sheep follower" as you state. I support my team and our coaches. Mistakes have been made and I pray they get corrected, but for your self-righteous, pretentious azz to get on here and talk that kinda smack is simply ridiculous. I will admit that some Vols fans can make some unwarranted claims and look petty at times; however, for you to come on this site and proclaim that all Vol fans are retarded and inbred simply makes my blood boil. And I assure you that if I ever saw you in public and heard you make those claims I might lose my cool, which never, ever happens. Sorry, to my fellow Vol comrades because I rarely get this heated on this website, but the comment made by Nobrainer was simply over the top

Bravo Volchief! Standing Ovation! Thank you for not responding to it directly. When Vol fans respond to the trolls directly, we have to read their c r a p over and over and over and over!

Thanks for making it a separate post, and again BRAVO!

CoverOrange writes:

in response to UTVOLSRROCKN:

UAVol, have you ever read the entire volumes and volumes of NCAA rules? I haven't either. You make a good point, however, it would have to be a 8hr class, every semester, all four years or up until graduation. Then they would have to go to post grad school to get up to date with all of the stupid rule/interpretations that the NCAA makes at their convienece.

Depending on what they will do to CBP and what they did about Cam Newton, I'm sure there will be more changes coming.

You're right, they need to offer an major in it. BSNCAA. Though it would be another one of those degrees that does nothing more than let you teach a class in it or wait tables.

Seriously, a simple class on the principles: don't take anything for free, don't ask for reduced prices, don't use coupons, don't visit anywhere without a NCAA chaperone...

tubavol writes:

Todd Dooley is dreamy.

desfpvol13 writes:

in response to Volchief:

Bring on the troll haters. Here's looking at you Nobrainer. You worthless POS troll! I have no idea who your team is but I take great offense in the comments that you post when you use terms like "retards" and "inbreeds". This story is of secondary violations that have already been addressed yet Gribble just now reports on. I am a UT fan but will never be a "black sheep follower" as you state. I support my team and our coaches. Mistakes have been made and I pray they get corrected, but for your self-righteous, pretentious azz to get on here and talk that kinda smack is simply ridiculous. I will admit that some Vols fans can make some unwarranted claims and look petty at times; however, for you to come on this site and proclaim that all Vol fans are retarded and inbred simply makes my blood boil. And I assure you that if I ever saw you in public and heard you make those claims I might lose my cool, which never, ever happens. Sorry, to my fellow Vol comrades because I rarely get this heated on this website, but the comment made by Nobrainer was simply over the top

No apology necessary. That inbred retard's post was over the top.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You say Pearl is cheating lying, I say you are a scum bag. So what

nepperso#220348 writes:

The NCAA (Nazi's Controlling All Athletics) is out of control! How can a coaching staff/University administration possibly control the behavior of a privately owned business? Absolutely freaking retarded! GBO!

wazzya69vol writes:

I remember being at UT when Rice Olds had their dealership with the glass showrooms on Cumberland, up from the Krystal. They had those nice Ninety-Eight Olds' convertibles. You'd always see Red Robbins and Howard Baynes driving by, filled with chicks, on a balmy day during Spring Qtr. We'd also cross paths in FT. Lauderdale on Spring break. Red is no longer with us but "those were the days". GBO!!

richvol writes:

Hey Gribble,I got two words for you...teeth whitener.

wonderosa writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe he meant Furman?

VolGraduate writes:

in response to lomas98:

Free entry to a bar for athletes happened when I was in school at the Lap and Library. Wasn't a big deal then. In fact, I'm glad facebook, cell phone cameras, twitter, etc. was not around then. Who knows who would have been suspended for games during the national championship year.

Those places were closed before 98. No?

CCLC writes:

It's always good to get on the board early when competing for the Fulmer Cup.
just sayin'

vol88 writes:

Okay, move on.

cloudodust writes:

I've got another violation rumor that some football student-athletes from Tennessee got a free slice of pie (a la mode, even..!) after finishing their meals at a Cracker Barrel the evening of beating Mississippi this past season. Just a rumor worth looking into I would think...

Brillovol writes:

in response to WhitePineVol77:

This is BS...at the very worst, make each player pay back the $5 or $10 cover to the establishment, then move on.

From the sounds of it, that's what they're doing. Every major athletic program will have something like this go on...minor news to say the least.

AirForceVol2786 writes:

in response to nobrainer:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Pay no attention to this screen name warrior. He wouldn't have the balls to say this to any real Vol fans face, and by the way BBBBBRRRRRRUUUUUCCCCCEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

maciste54 writes:

I don't see how the University can be held accountable for every single business that stupidly does something like this. I guarantee this goes on around every campus in the U.S. Doesn't make it right but be realistic. The Mor[t]ons surely new they were on thin ice with this. How could they not !

Mr_Bandman writes:

Seems like manipulating NCAA regulations to sabotage any school's athletic program would be all-to-easy. Let's pool our $$$ and open a chain of clubs in Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Baton Rouge, Athens, Auburn, Lexington, and Columbia. We'll offer no cover, buy-one-get-one-free wings, and complimentary lap dances to all "student-athletes". We can start an "outreach" program and dress all our dancers up in school colors and send them to high school football games to wave signs and pose seductively with every 4- & 5-star recruit we can find. We can offer to cater back yard BBQs for Billy Donovan, John Calipari, et al. Then we'll take our profits and buy every bar within 5 miles of Cumberland Avenue & convert them all to homeless shelters and Bible study lounges.

12Hours writes:

in response to govols87:

congrats on rehashing a secondary violation that was reported nearly 6 months ago. bravo. now Chris Low will copy/paste a few of your quotes to his blog, then the website will put up a pic of Dooley with a mid-game look of disgust upon his face, on the front page of ESPN.com, and tout it as some sort of major violation. then it will scroll on the crawler for several days.

ah, sensationalism. you guys ever thought about HELPING the athletic program? just curious.

AMEN BROTHER!!!!

I live in FL and I have to say the papers here do not stay on a constant witch hunt for the universities in this state.
I in no way want real news purposely hidden, but KNS goes out of their way to bring negative attention to UT.
Do they not understand that without UT sports most of them would not have a job!
I'd love to find out if there is any other school out there that had only two secondary violations and only one of those actually tied to the coaches! Most have many more.

Mr_Bandman writes:

in response to Mr_Bandman:

Seems like manipulating NCAA regulations to sabotage any school's athletic program would be all-to-easy. Let's pool our $$$ and open a chain of clubs in Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Baton Rouge, Athens, Auburn, Lexington, and Columbia. We'll offer no cover, buy-one-get-one-free wings, and complimentary lap dances to all "student-athletes". We can start an "outreach" program and dress all our dancers up in school colors and send them to high school football games to wave signs and pose seductively with every 4- & 5-star recruit we can find. We can offer to cater back yard BBQs for Billy Donovan, John Calipari, et al. Then we'll take our profits and buy every bar within 5 miles of Cumberland Avenue & convert them all to homeless shelters and Bible study lounges.

I'm reporting my own secondary violation to the Grammar Police---that should read "all-TOO-easy", instead of "to"....hopefully no one will ever find out about the preposition I stuck on the end of a sentence at the cookout last July...

MadMax writes:

Much ado about nothing. Just good reading for our opponents or those Vol fans in panic mode.

Volunatic writes:

Either the Mortons were TRYING to get the Vols in trouble, or else they are just ridiculously naive.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Either the Mortons were TRYING to get the Vols in trouble, or else they are just ridiculously naive.

I would wager that there are many businesses around Knoxville that give UT players discounts or priviliges, but noone ever finds out unless an incident ,like the bar fight, happens. The responsibility is on the players in my opinion because I'm sure the coaches have gone over and over about not taking improper benefits so its up to the players to refuse any free admissions or benefits. I almost laugh as I type because I cant see many 20 year olds insisting on paying for something that is being offered free, but they just better hope they dont get caught.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Careful zz. All NCAA athletic programs live in glass houses, but the glass at some schools is thinner than at others.

us43137415#376444 writes:

in response to UTVOLSRROCKN:

Why does the Knox media feel like they have to exploit secondary violations? Most other schools media DOES NOT do this!

I read your tweet Briblle, and you could not wait to get this story out there! What is wrong with you people? I do appreciate a free site to chat with my friends, but all of these continuous stories that bring out negativities, are just getting plain RIDICULOUS!

Not to burst your bubble dude, but UT does not own the news media.

Show me where the "other schools" with secondary violations, did not get full spreads in the newspaper, radio and TV.

If you cannot put that information forward, then keep quiet. Where's your evidence it wasn't covered at other schools?

Put up or shut up.

silentmajority writes:

Whoa! What's wrong with this picture?

Let me count the wrongs.

1. What's the legal drinking age in Tennessee? Or, were all 36 over 21 (our vols are sure getting old!) Or, were they younguns just auditing the course?

2. What do we expect of our sterling coaches nowadays? Not much ("New violations disclosed by UT are FIRST in Dooley era." Do we just naturally expect more to follow?)

3. Why doesn't KNS post this on their main web page? Why is it relegated to the harder-to-find volsxtra bit?

4. Why doesnt this prompt a general overhaul of UT sports, which nowadays seem more tabloid-oriented than family-oriented?

5. Is dooley a candidate to outperform kiffin's record of "secondary violations"? Shouldnt there be a (Heismanlike) trophy for such an accomplishment?

6. Is UT sportsdom turning into a finishing school for ruffians? Or is it already there?

&. On the other hand, what more can we expect for dooley's measly $2 Million pay?

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

in response to us43137415#376444:

Not to burst your bubble dude, but UT does not own the news media.

Show me where the "other schools" with secondary violations, did not get full spreads in the newspaper, radio and TV.

If you cannot put that information forward, then keep quiet. Where's your evidence it wasn't covered at other schools?

Put up or shut up.

Dude...I never said that UT owned the media. Can you read? I was referring to GVX!

samvol writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

The NCAA should require every university to offer a 5 hour class on NCAA rules and every student athlete should be required to take it. How can these athletes not know the simplest of rules?

seminars are offered to student/athletics. they just don’t care or feel they won’t be caught. how can the student/athletes follow the rules when their fearless leaders aren’t.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to silentmajority:

Whoa! What's wrong with this picture?

Let me count the wrongs.

1. What's the legal drinking age in Tennessee? Or, were all 36 over 21 (our vols are sure getting old!) Or, were they younguns just auditing the course?

2. What do we expect of our sterling coaches nowadays? Not much ("New violations disclosed by UT are FIRST in Dooley era." Do we just naturally expect more to follow?)

3. Why doesn't KNS post this on their main web page? Why is it relegated to the harder-to-find volsxtra bit?

4. Why doesnt this prompt a general overhaul of UT sports, which nowadays seem more tabloid-oriented than family-oriented?

5. Is dooley a candidate to outperform kiffin's record of "secondary violations"? Shouldnt there be a (Heismanlike) trophy for such an accomplishment?

6. Is UT sportsdom turning into a finishing school for ruffians? Or is it already there?

&. On the other hand, what more can we expect for dooley's measly $2 Million pay?

So much uncalled for negativity. I will start with question #1 Legal drinking age is 21, but the legal age to be inside most clubs is 18 so I'm not sure what your point is on this question other than to show you dont know about the law.
#2 Different people have different expectations. Most people expect there to be secondary violations since they are so common at all major programs.#3 It was on my computer KNS main page. Maybe a problem with your computer. #4 I would assume the issue has been addressed. Not sure what Overhaul you are talking about.#5 Dooley isnt even close to Kiffin in violations or attitude. Dooley take responsibility unlike Kiffin. Other schools have more violations than UT so if there was a trophy UT wouldnt even get close. #6 UT sportsdom as you put is the same as it always has been and is on par with most major institutions. Hope this was informative, but you dont seem like you want to listen so I probably just wasted my time.

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