CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Less than 12 hours before he was set to appear with the rest of Tennessee’s top brass at last week’s NCAA Committee on Infractions hearing in Indianapolis, Derek Dooley bumped into Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier.
It was then that the Tennessee football coach truly realized he would be in for a long Saturday, as Bleymaier had just spent the previous 13 hours defending his school against a variety of allegations.
“I was ready for a long one,” Dooley said Friday while he signed a table full of footballs at the Bradley Sunrise Rotary Sunset Gala, a fundraising event to benefit those affected by the deadly tornadoes that swept through the area in April.
“It’s OK with me because we have long staff meetings. I was used to it.”
Dooley made sure to have one of those long staff meetings after last week’s hearing, which ended just shy of 11 hours compared to Boise State’s 13.
Because his assistants are the ones “out in the field” more than he is, Dooley said it was essential to relay what he learned.
“You’re constantly trying to promote an atmosphere of compliance,” Dooley said. “You’re pushing your coaches to perform and pushing them to get results in recruiting but at the same time you’ve got to make sure they understand it’s never at the expense of the rules. That’s just something you’ve got to constantly do.”
Though neither Dooley nor men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin had anything to do with the 12 major violations levied against UT in February’s Notice of Allegations, both were required to attend the hearing, per NCAA rules.
Dooley admitted before the hearing that he didn’t exactly want to be there and joked that he would try to watch movies on his iPad during the proceedings. In hindsight, though, Dooley said he couldn’t stress how important it was to attend.
“There were a lot of lessons that I took from it,” he said. “I do think when you see how one bad choice or one bad decision can impact so many different lives, it resonates with you.
“I think it was also sort of a good reminder of how the landscape is changing. It really is moving away and putting more and more responsibility on the head coach to really have command of the whole shop. It’s challenging to be able to do that, but that’s the landscape right now.”
Per NCAA rules, Dooley couldn’t divulge into the specifics of the hearing. The Vols won’t hear from the NCAA on potential penalties for at least seven weeks.
Dooley said he hopes it’s the last UT hears from college sports’ governing body.
“I just think that everybody’s got a line that they got to never cross,” he said. “No matter what pressure you feel it should never cause you to do something that would ultimately result in losing your job and affect the program.”
Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble