Bryce Brown is still trying to get out of his football scholarship at the University of Tennessee.
Now the former Vols running back is doing it by claiming he never fit in at UT.
Photo by Wichita Eagle
According to a letter and sworn affidavits from Brown's lawyer Gregory Isaacs delivered to a handful of administrators at UT and obtained by the News Sentinel on Thursday, the No. 1 recruit in the nation a year ago cited depression, health concerns for his family, being uncomfortable with some off-field problems last season and issues created by the old coaching staff in his latest attempt to be released by the program.
Isaacs declined comment when reached by phone, and UT athletic director Mike Hamilton declined a request as well through a school spokesperson.
"Upon arriving in Knoxville, I immediately felt like I was too far away from home," Brown said in an affidavit signed Wednesday. "I would constantly call home to talk to my family, who thought I would overcome my homesickness once more players and students arrived on campus.
"Once other football players did arrive on campus, I quickly realized that I did not fit in with the other players in the football program. My teammates were involved in a range of activities that I was not comfortable being around."
Brown, who was employed as a commissioned petwalker by All Kreatures Pet Care from March through June while his teammates took part in spring drills, said he discussed his "situation with the UT coaching staff, the team chaplin (sic) and a team ordered psychiatrist," according to the affidavit.
Brown said that his father, Arthur Brown Sr., is "under a doctor's care for stress, insomnia, anxiety, anorexia, and marital discord.
"My grandfather continues to be treated for prostate cancer."
Brown said missing his "high school graduation and senior trip had a severe emotional impact on me."
Brown's father also gave examples of other problems at UT.
According to the affidavit signed by Arthur Brown Sr., that includes allegedly seeing former teammates Nu'Keese Richardson, Mike Edwards and Janzen Jackson in an elevator and being made aware the three were "on their way to rob a convenience store" on the night of their arrests. That issue, along with others included in the documents, apparently contributed to his decision not to show up for spring practice and then ask for a release from new coach Derek Dooley this summer, a request that was denied and later upheld during an appeal.
From the perspective of Dooley and the football program, the matter has been considered closed for months and Dooley has never wavered from his statements after declining to release Brown in July.
"As with the other players who have asked for a release, I went through the same process with the same criteria with Bryce," Dooley said then. "These are the three key factors - what their personal investment into the program was, did they have their heart into it and did they give it a good, fair shot. No. 2, the harm that their departure creates for the organization. No. 3, how they handle it as a professional.
"I've done that with every one of these guys - with Aaron (Douglas), with Todd Campbell, with Nick Stephens, Nick Lamaison and now Bryce. So now my decision, based on those three factors with Bryce, is not to release him."
A subsequent appeal to UT administrators also appeared to be the end of the lengthy saga, but then Brown's father appeared on The Sports Animal for a radio interview and threatened to sue the school and Dooley in an attempt to win a release for his son, who's now enrolled at Kansas State and sitting out the required year before he can play for the Wildcats.
Arthur Brown Sr. retained the services of Isaacs, who wrote a letter addressed to Hamilton, Dooley, chancellor Jimmy Cheek and president Jan Simek asking UT again to reconsider and provide a "second chance."
"Bryce Brown has the deepest respect for coach Dooley, the University of Tennessee and the university's football program," Isaacs wrote. "However, Bryce should not be penalized as a result of the internal and external pressures that resulted in a debilitating fog of depression.
"The well-being our young student-athletes that families entrust to the University of Tennessee to educated and develop should take priority over what is perceived as detrimental to a football program. Ironically, (former coach Lane) Kiffin, who was responsible for Bryce coming to the University of Tennessee, is actively coaching at the University of Southern California, making an exorbitant salary while the Browns are struggling to pay for Bryce's education."
If UT did reconsider and release Brown, Kansas State could place the running back on scholarship immediately, but he would still not be eligible to play until next season. With or without a release, Brown will still be able to suit up for the Wildcats in the future.