An apparent misunderstanding has some Tennessee football lettermen concerned about head coach Derek Dooley's policy decisions.
The discord began in mid-February when Dooley cleared UT's indoor practice facility of all visitors not involved in the upcoming conditioning drills.
Unbeknownst to Dooley, former UT players were in the group escorted from the building, according to senior associate athletic director David Blackburn.
Blackburn said that Dooley has since spoken to the board of UT's Lettermen's Club and sent a letter to former players, mostly to welcome them on campus - with a few stipulations.
Most importantly, if a former player wants to attend practice, he's asked to inform the football office beforehand.
"The lettermen are always welcome here to stop in and visit," said Blackburn. "They're always welcome at practice."
Dooley was not available for comment Monday, but did speak to former defensive tackle Wes Brown, one of the players unceremoniously escorted from UT's complex.
Brown said Dooley called Monday to apologize and the two even joked about the situation. Brown said Dooley said he wants former players to be involved and is the opposite of the reputation that is preceding him among some former lettermen.
"He was basically telling me there were so many fresh faces (in the complex)," Brown said. "I understand that. I wasn't upset or mad."
Brown said he didn't think much about being asked to leave, that he only planned to stay for a few minutes and was close to leaving for class anyway.
Brown said UT's last coach, Lane Kiffin, also had a small circle of confidants he trusted in the early days of his tenure before opening up.
Brown said he understands the need for security, that onlookers could be from other schools.
"I'd want you out of there, too," Brown said. "It was pretty odd how fast word traveled (among former players)."
Before Dooley addressed the problem with Brown and other lettermen, rumors circulated among former players that they might not be welcome at practice and during team functions.
Former UT safety Eric Berry, who has been preparing for the NFL draft since January, said he planned to meet with Dooley today.
"That was one of the things I'm going to bring up," the All-American said of the snub Monday on the News Sentinel's radio show, The Sports Page.
Berry said he heard of the new rumored policies.
"One of my former teammates called and told me that he (Dooley) had kicked a few guys out of practice and they weren't able to watch practice," Berry said. "I got a message from someone else saying that they were also kicked out of practice.
"They were very upset about it. I was trying to figure out what was going on. I thought a lot of people were just playing (joking), but I found out it was a serious matter."
Berry admitted he wasn't completely clear on the new policies. But if he's asked to give back - financially or otherwise - he expects to be welcomed by the athletic program.
"They're going to ask us to give back, but at the same time people have played here," Berry said. "We've played, sweat (and) cried. It's been a big deal. A lot of people have put a lot of time into Tennessee and the 'T' on our helmet.
"It would feel nice to be able to come back and at least watch practice and just see what's going on with our university that we were a part of."
Former UT offensive lineman Chris Scott said former players during practice were always a strong motivator.
"You look at them. They set the foundation for me to be here," said Scott, who also is preparing for the NFL draft. "They're on the sidelines looking at you and how you play ball. They're motivating you. That's always a good feeling."
With the meeting between Dooley and Berry looming, the Jim Thorpe Award winner's opinion will surely carry more weight among his peers.
Berry was one of the most respected players on his team, highly thought of for his selflessness, having never complained through UT's recent struggles.
Berry also knows UT's traditions as well as anyone. His father, James Berry, was a standout running back at UT.
"Tennessee is going to be Tennessee regardless," Eric Berry said. "Whoever comes in, it's still going to be Tennessee."
Access Policy: With Tennessee scheduled to announce its media policy Wednesday, not much access is expected.
Dooley has coached under Alabama coach Nick Saban at LSU and for the Miami Dolphins. Saban is known for granting extremely limited media access.
Under Kiffin, spring practice and preseason scrimmages were open.
Fall practices were open for approximately the first 20 minutes only to the media.
Former UT coach Phillip Fulmer had open practices for most of his career, but then closed them beginning in 2004.
Berry said having an audience at practice had its advantages.
"It made us compete in practice," he said. "We were used to that game atmosphere and used to being around a lot of people, and crowds of people watching us compete. When we got out into the stadium, it wasn't anything different."
The Vols start spring practice Thursday.