Bruce Pearl comments on allegations surrounding Renaldo "Swiperboy" Woolridge
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New Amsterdam Bar and Grill
1836 Cumberland Avenue
Housing one of the largest dance floors in Knoxville, New Amsterdam is a two-story club featuring 3 bars, one central 360-degree bar upstairs, and a full-service drink and dining menu. DJ dance parties and live music shows every weekend. Located ...More about New Amsterdam Bar and Grill »
Inside the beats of Swiperboy Entertainment
Eight hours after the Vols' 72-61 loss at No. 8 Connecticut on Saturday, Woolridge received exclusive access to the upstairs portion of New Amsterdam Bar and Grill, 1836 Cumberland Ave., free of charge, a bar source aware of the arrangement told the News Sentinel.
The source asked not to be identified because publicity may hurt the bar.
Not charging Woolridge, a junior forward who goes by the handle "Swiperboy," and his party for the reserved space to shoot the video could be considered an extra benefit and constitute a National Collegiate Athletic Association violation.
"It was given to him by the New Amsterdam for free because we do support him and UT sports in general," the source said.
"He shot the video, like I said, to support UT. It was basically done at the New Amsterdam because it's one of the favorite spots for UT college students."
The cost for leasing the room for special occasions was not available.
UT associate athletic director for communications Jimmy Stanton said today the UT athletic department would decline to comment at this time.
Men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl, speaking at his weekly media luncheon, said he planned to meet with both Woolridge and the UT compliance department to determine whether a violation occurred.
According to NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52.6, 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."
Woolridge, 20, declined to comment on the video when approached Saturday night by a representative of the News Sentinel. He did not dress in UT's loss to the Huskies on Saturday because of an ankle injury.
On his official website, Woolridge, in a video blog shot during the team's flight Thursday night to Connecticut, promoted the impending production of a video for his latest single, "Snap Back." Woolridge has filmed a number of rap videos since arriving at UT in 2008, including a university-sponsored promotion during former football player Eric Berry's Heisman trophy campaign in 2009.
“I’m very supportive of Renaldo as a student and very supportive of him in his major in film and communications, and he particularly has a very unique talent,” Pearl said. “When I say that, we’re encouraging him to be the best he can be in both pursuits, academically as well as basketball.
“There are certain times of the year where it’s more appropriate to focus the vast majority of his energy to that in the season and probably we’ll visit with him a little bit on that. There’s a balance; there’s got to be a balance there.”
The violation would be the latest for the UT men's basketball team, which is one of three programs - along with football and baseball - that is currently under investigation by the NCAA. The UT athletic department announced that it received a Letter of Inquiry from the NCAA in October and is expected to receive the findings by as early as the end of January or February.
A number of UT men's basketball players violated the NCAA's improper benefits rule when they received free admissions on Thursday nights to Bar Knoxville, 1820 Cumberland Ave., between May and July 9, 2010. Because none of the student-athletes received more than $100 in benefits, they were briefly declared ineligible until they paid back their share to a charity.
Men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl and football coach Derek Dooley have since banned their players from attending Bar Knoxville, which was also the site of well-documented brawl involving football players and an undercover police officer last July. The bar recently changed its name to Rumorz.
Recent cases of improper benefits in college basketball that went above $100 have resulted in suspensions. Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly were suspended in December for three and six games, respectively, for receiving improper discounts from a local clothing store.
Jacques Smith, a freshman defensive end on the football team, was arrested Oct. 31 at New Amsterdam after a fight with a patron. Smith pleaded guilty on a simple assault charge, but will have the transgression dropped from his record in a year if he adheres to his judicial diversion.
Woolridge has averaged nine minutes per game in eight games this season.
Grant Ramey, a freelance writer for the News Sentinel, contributed to this report.
Andrew Gribble covers Tennessee football and recruiting. He may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble/