UT tells students not to paint Rock to welcome recruits

The Rock on the Tennessee campus as it appeared on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2013 with the names of official visitors for a big football recruiting weekend. (Special to the News Sentinel)

The Rock on the Tennessee campus as it appeared on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2013 with the names of official visitors for a big football recruiting weekend. (Special to the News Sentinel)

On the chilly evening of Jan. 18, some Tennessee students gathered up some paint and went about transforming the Rock into a giant welcoming billboard for visiting football recruits.

Upon a black backdrop, the Rock declared in orange: "Welcome Recruits! Rise to the Top! #Team117." Below the message were the last names of every visiting recruit: Carl Lawson, Malik Foreman, Davin Bellamy and nearly a dozen others.

They went to a popular message board at volnation.com and basked in the praise of their fellow fans for a job well done. A few hours later, they were shocked to learn that their work — which had taken hours to produce — had already been painted over. Even more surprising? The people who had ruined their message worked for Tennessee.

Since the 1960s, the Rock has been a sort of free-speech canvas for opinions, promotions, artwork and just about anything else that can brushed or spray-painted on the side of a boulder.

But there's one issue for which UT officials say there is no gray area: Any message geared to recruits is an NCAA violation, and the athletic department will do everything in its power to take it down.

"The bylaw that's associated with that has to do with publicizing prospects' visits to campus, and that includes painting the rock," said Todd Dooley, the assistant athletic director who leads UT's compliance department. "The coaches know the rules. The students don't, and we don't have as much control over them."

But when Dooley gets word that the Rock is making a pitch to recruits, he makes a few phone calls. Before long, UT employees are on the scene, painting over the names of any prospect.

Dooley said the way the NCAA bylaw is interpreted leaves the school no other options.

"There was a directorate from the SEC that we had to use our best efforts to keep prospects' names from being painted on the Rock," Dooley said. "A lot of the schools in the league don't have anything similar to the Rock, so the opportunity exists to gain an advantage. We've heard about it from other schools."

The bylaw on "publicity" may seem odd, given that the prospects are discussed and debated at length on message boards and in traditional media. Their visits are anticipated and analyzed.

But Dooley said the NCAA has used a broad interpretation of the "publicity" bylaw in the past, even admonishing a school when students held up signs for recruits at events.

So where does that leave enthusiastic students like the ones who painted the Rock last week, who merely want to help the football program?

"Our message generally to students is, leave (recruiting) to the coaches," Dooley said. "The best thing to do is show up to events and show support for Tennessee."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 77

volguy#211935 writes:

So when recruits have their names chanted by students and others at basketball games, do they have the offenders have their mouths tapes shut? No difference between that and the Rock.

bhjohnso#207063 writes:

in response to volguy#211935:

So when recruits have their names chanted by students and others at basketball games, do they have the offenders have their mouths tapes shut? No difference between that and the Rock.

Well, recruits at every other school can also get their names chanted at basketball games, but as the article mentioned, most other schools don't have something like the rock, so therein lies the discrepancy.

Peepin writes:

Its a minor violation. I think UGA had 50 of those last year. They do nothing.

PAINT THE ROCK FOR VON BELL!!!!! We need to show this kid some love!

PureOrange writes:

The names on the Rock are actually people who come onto the campus. It is not like anyone is broadcasting their names along the highway. But even if they did, it only shows the ignorance of the NCAA. It is nothing more than a bad joke.
NCAA really needs an infusion of common sense, but doubt that will happen.

volguy#211935 writes:

in response to bhjohnso#207063:

Well, recruits at every other school can also get their names chanted at basketball games, but as the article mentioned, most other schools don't have something like the rock, so therein lies the discrepancy.

I understand it happens at other schools. That is what I was talking about. And it happens more with basketball players at basketball games. Read this thread about a junior PG who committed to UNC recently. http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=78&...

eVOLved writes:

good to know got Dooleys all over the athletic department. Another topic, but I hope CDD gets a career in broadcasting because he is hilarious.

Sunshine27 writes:

How about this trade....students leave the rock alone and J Cheek and the other idiots leave football alone. They've done enough damage.

Ayres_Hall writes:

I'm sure the students will comply with the rules....

DonK37920 writes:

Good effort by the students involved but time to let it rest. Our facilities, coaches and tradition will say more to a recruit than having his name painted on a rock. Again, I applaud the effort but I doubt this makes much of a difference one way or the other. It's Friday night, use your new found time to go find a date or something.

Rocky_Fathead_Dennis writes:

Todd Dooley is an awesome person. He taught a class when I was in school in 2003. Guy is literally a stand up comedian. The unfortunate part of his job is he has to obey the stupid NCAA bylaws and the stupid rules. He does not create them.

KVCrockett writes:

Maybe the students can paint Hart's hair.

Show-me-your-TDs writes:

So no airplanes with banners being dragged behind them then I guess

KVCrockett writes:

This year the planes will be pulling long streamers of orange pants!

tubavol writes:

Todd Dooley is dreamy.

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Good luck with that request!!! If you want to make sure it doesn't happen you'd better post guards similar to the ones guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier.

8inarow writes:

So, if a Bammer fan paints some recruits names on the rock in the middle of the night....

Tyler_Bray_Truth writes:

in response to volguy#211935:

So when recruits have their names chanted by students and others at basketball games, do they have the offenders have their mouths tapes shut? No difference between that and the Rock.

Yes, there is a difference. UT has to put forth its best effort to avoid NCAA violations. Asking students to not paint the rock is part of it. Once they know recruits are painted on, they have no choice to paint over it. Do you want even MORE NCAA heat on the program??

jt45 writes:

Every time I read about another stupid rule, it makes me more grateful I was in school in the 70s and common sense wasnt quite so rare. seriously whats next? bookbag searches?Computer tapping? Maybe they should just go ahead and ban Welcome mats while there at it. Ridiculous!

lemme_axya_this writes:

The NCAA needs to get their own house in order. They are fumbling through the investigation of the Miami Hurricane program, showing a clear lack of institutional control of their own. They are probably more worried about serious infractions like painting The Rock. They'll strain at a gnat, but swallow a camel.

GrandCanyonVol writes:

People love to make rules. It gives them a sense of being in charge, having control over their fellow man. The government is going through this right now as we speak.It's a power thing in the heart of man. Man's heart is deceiveful and wicked above all things, according to the Bible. Making painting a little ole rock some big deal. Isn't that something......

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

To define a NCAA recruiting violation it must be proven that the painting gave UT a clear advantage over other schools?? Are they serious, what's stopping other schools from painting a rock and putting welcome messages to recruits on it?

Sovol writes:

Whew. Scared me there for a minute. I thought Derrick Dooley was back.

maciste54 writes:

NCAA doesn't like the 1st amendment. Reminds me of someone else and the 2nd.

lknvol writes:

The NCAA AND Jimmy Cheek need to go!!!!

jryevols#222657 writes:

Ok , so the coaches can lead the perspective player into the gym or stadium and have the PA announcer say" And now starting at QB for the Tennessee Volunteer , " It is done all over the country as a recruiting tool. It seems the NCAA would love the student inner-action. Sports are no more fun.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Peepin:

Its a minor violation. I think UGA had 50 of those last year. They do nothing.

PAINT THE ROCK FOR VON BELL!!!!! We need to show this kid some love!

Yeah, I was kinda surprised not to see his name on The Rock. Darned NCAA spoilsports! The Vols need all the recruiting help they can get right now. Too bad the NCAA no-fun types couldn't have winked just this once!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Yeah, I was kinda surprised not to see his name on The Rock. Darned NCAA spoilsports! The Vols need all the recruiting help they can get right now. Too bad the NCAA no-fun types couldn't have winked just this once!

Correction: This had nothing directly to do with the NCAA. The UT compliance officer had The Rock painted over as a preemptive measure, knowing that it would have been an infraction as it was. And yes, it is a secondary violation, but I'm pretty sure the Vols are still under some kind of NCAA probation, so leaving The Rock as it was would have been a kind of in-your-face gesture if UT authorities had left it up.

mrvol2u writes:

To all present UT students, PAINT THE DARN ROCK! Stick it to the man! When I was there 30 years ago, I would have done it.

killdevil writes:

Sounds like the NCAA need an Oliver Cromwell to put that house in order

josharelli writes:

Burn it!

notorange writes:

May not be that big a deal, most can't read anyway.... :) (only half kidding unfortunately)

SeaBassHauling writes:

Paint the ROCK....! Others do a lot more than a rock.......sooooooo.....Kiss our
ROCK....!!!

pingkr62 writes:

Big brother strikes again! G.B.O.!!!

FanNotSheep writes:

Way to go NCAA -- way to take the fun out of college sports.

Just imagine how much better it would be if the people who make the rules had a little common sense. Where is the harm in this? What's next? No tweeting that you wish prospects would come to your school? No cheering when prospects come into the arena before a basketball game?

I really do believe the NCAA does more harm than good. The rules are impossible to follow and nearly impossible to understand -- just like the tax laws in this country.

CoverOrange writes:

Somebody go get a marquee sign and sweet talk one of the businesses along the strip to put it out front with whatever they want on it. The NCAA, SEC nor UTAD could do a darn thing about it.

Volalumnus writes:

in response to bhjohnso#207063:

Well, recruits at every other school can also get their names chanted at basketball games, but as the article mentioned, most other schools don't have something like the rock, so therein lies the discrepancy.

I guess in today's society of "fairness" we just need to go buy the other schools a rock to paint.

GloryDays writes:

in response to Sunshine27:

How about this trade....students leave the rock alone and J Cheek and the other idiots leave football alone. They've done enough damage.

Amen, brother. Most of the problems with the football team are a direct result of Cheek and other elites in the administrators.

FanNotSheep writes:

The NCAA already robbed us of the best basketball coach in the college game. I guess now they'll take away the rock too. Wonder how long before the nation's top schools realize they'd be better off without the self-serving, hypocritical, biased, inept and dirty organization known as the NCAA. (National Collection of Arrogant A-holes)

Voluvr writes:

Mr. Dooley, perhaps the students were used to having to do the recruiting because the coaches weren't. This is a little overboard. I know it's you're job, but this has been going on I know since the late 70's....and how many violations have we received because of the rock? 0.

You may want to go back for a post graduate degree....Marketing.

born2ride writes:

Stokes signed with UT because of the rock.

budd#207344 writes:

The NCAA does not have a foot to stand on here. This is not an organized activity by the UTAD. It is students doing it on their own. If the NCAA makes anything of it the students should sue for violation of their free speech. Paint the names and include the fickle finger for the NCAA

lstbodeanvol writes:

in response to Sunshine27:

How about this trade....students leave the rock alone and J Cheek and the other idiots leave football alone. They've done enough damage.

concur

OwensboroVol writes:

And the NCAA wonders why they are losing all of their respect. This has to be one of the most stupid restrictions. I can understand the reasons but they need to be a little more specific on who the rules apply to. I don't think the NCAA can punish the Athletic Dept. for what a few students do to show their school spirit.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Tennessee can't scribble a few names on the rock. But.........on national television, all through the football season, there was this "Roll Tide" commercial, repeated over and over.......even a spoof at a funeral where "Roll Tide" was the greeting. Does the NCAA not think kids might be swayed a little bit with the smidgeon of exposure?

And, Notre Dame with its t.v. NBC network?
Yet, the NCAA would frown on a few names painted on a rock???

Sounds like a few double standards.

cloudodust writes:

Dang that 'Free Speech' thing...makes me wonder why we kicked General Gage off Boston Island. Well, it ain't the 18th Century any more...or is it..? GBO

CroKev writes:

Why not find out when the recruits will be driving/walking by the rock, paint it an hour before that, then have the AD police paint over it 30 minutes later? The NCAA cannot punish a school who removes the names a scant hour after it's been painted can it? In fact, UT would probably receive an award for being so diligent with the clean-up!

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

Does that mean the press can no longer inform us of when recruits are visiting?

thevoice writes:

I understand why the rock was painted over... unfair advantage. What I don't get is what paint performs in sub-freezing temperatures.

thevoice writes:

Anytime I hear Dooley and the Athletic Department in the same article, my blood pressure rises.

titansfan2104 writes:

It don't bother me that they painted over it.... I can't believe their is still a dooley on the hill. Ironic

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