Two minor football recruiting violations were among seven secondary NCAA rules violations reported by Tennessee to the SEC offices in the past six months.
The documents were released to the News Sentinel on Tuesday in response to a request made under Tennessee’s open-records law.
Universities routinely self-report secondary violations to their conference offices and the NCAA. In most cases, the SEC and NCAA accept the university’s self-imposed punishments and take no further action. The News Sentinel periodically requests documents related to NCAA violations, and UT also posts summaries of the violations on its website.
Days before National Signing Day in February, Tennessee football staff members hosting recruits at Calhoun’s on the River committed a secondary violation by making contact with an unnamed prospect, who had unexpectedly accompanied another recruit to the restaurant. Schools are limited to six off-campus contacts with a prospect; the restaurant bump was the seventh.
Coaches went through additional rules education, but UT said the mistake was inadvertent and no recruiting advantage was gained.
In March, a junior college prospect visited campus on an unofficial visit. Later, UT discovered that the prospect had not yet completed one full year at his school, meaning he was not allowed to participate in on-campus recruiting.
Tennessee said a mitigating factor was that the unnamed prospect visited several other schools, who were also apparently unaware of his status.
Two violations included associate swimming coach Tyler Fenwick, who impermissibly texted recruits he had coached at his previous job at a private club in California. UT wrote that Fenwick incorrectly believed that he could continue to communicate with the prospects and their families because he had a close prior relationship from his time as a club coach. Fenwick was barred from telephone contact with recruits for 14 days and UT was barred from contacting the recruits in question for 30 days.
Fenwick also was issued a letter of admonishment after UT’s compliance office reviewed a question-and-answer column he wrote for Swimming World magazine and determined that one of the questions came from a prospective student-athlete.
Some of the violations released in the reports can seem absurdly minor.
When women’s basketball director of operations Michael Beaumont handed out cash for meals during a trip to Arkansas, he used the per diem rate for Knoxville, not Fayetteville. That meant each player received $3 more than permissible for their lunch.
The solution? “Student-athletes donated ($3) to a charity of their choice,” the university wrote.
Men’s tennis coach Sam Winterbotham inadvertently paid for a breakfast that had been charged to the room of a visiting student-athlete. The $12.28 in question was paid to a charity.
Photos from a UT volleyball camp that included several prospects were posted on the team’s Facebook page last summer. UT said the photos constituted a violation.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee athletics. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.