Tennessee’s football team finally received its much-anticipated answer. It just wasn’t the one the Vols wanted.
Senior defensive lineman Maurice Couch has been ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA, the team announced through its Twitter account Friday. The school said it will appeal the decision.
The 6-foot-2, 304-pound senior has not played since UT’s compliance staff declared him ineligible on Sept. 12, one day after Yahoo Sports named Couch and former quarterback Tyler Bray in a report about SEC football players who accepted cash payments from Luther Davis, a former Alabama player who allegedly acted as a liaison to NFL agents and financial advisers.
Couch was the only active player named in the report, which raised the possibility that the NCAA could require the Vols to vacate wins in which Couch participated.
But a Tennessee official familiar with the ruling told the News Sentinel that the NCAA did not vacate any games and that Couch’s status was the only issue under appeal. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the NCAA has not yet ruled on the appeal.
Couch did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
However, he used social media to make his feelings known, writing “At the end of the day, what’s most important is I have my family, my degree, and love n support from the Volnation.”
“And thanks to UT, coaches, teammates, Volnation, and everyone else involved sincerely appreciate everything you done for me,” he tweeted later.
During Tennessee’s 45-10 loss to No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 26, Couch posted a tweet that hinted at his motivation for taking money.
“ ... I apologize to the Volnation for what I did, but I’m a father first!” he wrote.
Couch, 23, and his wife have one child. They are expecting their second.
Bray left Tennessee with one year of eligibility remaining. He was not selected in April’s NFL draft, but made the Kansas City Chiefs’ roster after signing a free-agent contract with the team. Bray has made no public comment about the allegations.
Ben Frederickson contributed to this report.