Tyler Bray, Mo Couch allegedly paid by agent liaison; UT says it's 'examining facts'

Bray, Couch allegedly paid by agent liaison

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) leaves the field after Mississippi State defeated the Vols 41-31 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Adam Brimer

Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray (8) leaves the field after Mississippi State defeated the Vols 41-31 at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. (ADAM BRIMER/NEWS SENTINEL)

Maurice Couch

Photo by submitted

Maurice Couch

Tyler Bray

Photo by Dave Martin

Tyler Bray

Photo with no caption

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

A former athlete who acted as an intermediary for NFL agents allegedly funneled cash to University of Tennessee defensive tackle Mo Couch and former Vols quarterback Tyler Bray, according to a report by Yahoo Sports published online Wednesday.

Yahoo said it authenticated six cash transfers in which former University of Alabama player Luther Davis sent money via Western Union to Couch or Bray. The transactions occurred primarily during the summer of 2012, although one payment occurred during the 2012 season.

A UT official said the university was looking into the allegations.

“The education of our student-athletes regarding NCAA rules and extra benefits is and will continue to be the central focus of our compliance efforts,” Jimmy Stanton, senior associate athletic director, said in a statement. “We are aware of the article and are examining all of the relevant facts, and we will not comment further.”

On the “Vol Calls” radio program Wednesday evening, head coach Butch Jones said he was proud of his staff’s commitment to NCAA compliance and educating players about agents.

“The only thing I can comment on is what we’ve done since we’ve been here,” said Jones, who was hired last December. “Everybody has a track record, and I think our track record (on NCAA compliance) speaks for itself.”

The Yahoo report alleges that three other former Southeastern Conference players received cash from Davis — Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker; Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox, a defensive tackle; and wideout Chad Bumphis, also of Mississippi State.

The report described Davis as a “concierge” who helped agents and financial advisers meet potential NFL draft picks.

Yahoo said it identified agents Andy Simms, Peter Schaffer, and John Phillips, and financial advisers Jason Jernigan, Mike Rowan, and Hodge Brahmbhatt, as those who provided $45,500 to Davis. Yahoo said Simms, Schaffer, Phillips and Rowan confirmed giving money to Davis, but said they did not instruct him to provide it to players.

Bray’s agent declined to comment to Yahoo on the report.

Jones said Couch would not play in Saturday’s game at the University of Oregon after missing Wednesday’s practice due to heat-related symptoms. A reporter who saw Couch leave the field on Tuesday said the 304-pound lineman did, in fact, appear to be stricken by the heat.

Couch, married with a child, is from Orlando, Fla., and arrived at UT in 2011 after a stint at Garden City (Kan.) Community College. He didn’t participate in spring practice because of an injury and was beaten out for the starting job by senior Daniel Hood in camp.

Bray, a native of Kingsburg, Calif., passed for 7,444 yards in his UT career but went unselected in the NFL draft in April. He signed a free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs and made the roster.

What happens next for Tennessee is unclear. The NCAA and UT could declare Bray and Couch retroactively ineligible if it is determined that they knowingly took impermissible payments. In some instances, teams have been forced to vacate any wins in which an ineligible player participates. The Vols went 5-7 last year. Couch has played in the first two games of the 2013 season.

In other instances, when there are mitigating factors, the NCAA has allowed a player to be declared ineligible and then almost immediately reinstated. That was the case in 2010 when the NCAA determined that neither Cam Newton nor Auburn were aware that Newton’s father had solicited teams for payments.

UT is on NCAA probation through Aug. 23, 2015. The probation was extended by two years last November after the NCAA ruled that former assistant Willie Mack Garza provided impermissible travel and lodging to a former prospect.

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Comments » 17

ML2020 writes:

Bray not a surprise. But Couch? I did not know he was even on someone's radar this year much less last year.

Snapshot writes:

You might have guessed there would been a bammer involved. If this is true, with the bammer player Fluker being one of those accused, will they potentially have to forfeit a Nat. Champ.?

rainbow6 writes:

Anyone who paid Bray based on his performance in games must be mentally deficient or just plain stoooopid!!!

Butterbeans writes:

Maybe breach of contract by Dooley? Can we stop paying him now?

ewoodbery (staff) writes:

in response to Butterbeans:

Maybe breach of contract by Dooley? Can we stop paying him now?

That would be bad news for Tennessee, actually. From an institutional standpoint, there's no indication that any UT staff member (including Dooley) knew or should have known about these alleged payments. That would be significant from the perspective of institutional liability, I believe, although wouldn't necessarily affect the eligibility of the players in question.

RockyTop1 writes:

in response to Butterbeans:

Maybe breach of contract by Dooley? Can we stop paying him now?

I agree, but you better watch out for any Barbara sightings.....think about your safety.... :)

johnlg00 writes:

I saw this story on Yahoo yesterday. The amounts allegedly given to Bray and Couch seemed to be far less than what some of the others are said to have gotten, but I don't know how much difference it will make in any potential penalties the school might receive. It surely doesn't help that UT is already on NCAA probation.

If they follow the "letter of the law", the penalties could be fairly severe, though probably not as bad as they could be in Bama's case, since it could involve forfeiture of one or more national championships. It may help in all these cases that there are no allegations, yet anyway, that school officials or coaches were involved or knew anything about these payments. This case is different from the ongoing Oklahoma State investigation, where it is alleged that coaches actually MADE payments to players.

These agents, especially the wannabes, cast a very wide net in hopes of snagging a contract that could make their whole careers. It's worth it to them to spread around relatively small amounts to as many players as possible to form relationships with them, since even one major contract can mean millions over the long haul to the agent.

formervol1950s writes:

in response to RockyTop1:

I agree, but you better watch out for any Barbara sightings.....think about your safety.... :)

Rocky Top...thanks for the first smile I have been able to generate since all this mess started .

johnlg00 writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

That would be bad news for Tennessee, actually. From an institutional standpoint, there's no indication that any UT staff member (including Dooley) knew or should have known about these alleged payments. That would be significant from the perspective of institutional liability, I believe, although wouldn't necessarily affect the eligibility of the players in question.

That's about how it looks to me, too, though you almost certainly know more about the ins and outs of NCAA investigations and penalties than I do. My guess is that this is essentially IT for Couch's UT career. I don't see how CBJ could take the chance on playing him anymore if it seems likely that he will be found retroactively ineligible. That would be too bad for Couch, being a family man and all, since he is hardly a cinch to be drafted by the NFL based on what he has done so far at UT.

RockyTop1 writes:

in response to formervol1950s:

Rocky Top...thanks for the first smile I have been able to generate since all this mess started .

My pleasure....gotta look on the bright side, because it is ALWAYS darkest before the dawn...

underthehill writes:

in response to ewoodbery:

That would be bad news for Tennessee, actually. From an institutional standpoint, there's no indication that any UT staff member (including Dooley) knew or should have known about these alleged payments. That would be significant from the perspective of institutional liability, I believe, although wouldn't necessarily affect the eligibility of the players in question.

Evan..on another matter ..I have a question for you..after watching the W Ky game..would you still rate the UT running backs equal to W Ky running backs...

bUTch__please writes:

Gotta think -

- these infractions were on the previous staff. Doesn't excuse them, but Coach Jones and his staff have a perfect record with the 2A. may help with a soft landing like Coach Zo did with bball.

- the second this came up, Mo had concrete blocks poured on his feet and tossed off the docks. The seriousness of the allegations were not ignored.

- like John said, doesn't look like it's an institutional breakdown similar to the Oklahoma State fiasco. More of an uncontrolled, non-booster agent trolling possible clients.

- with the Bama connection in this, we won't get hit any harder than Bama will. Since Slive is running the 2A field office in B-ham, the shear amount of cash flow will soften any outlandish concerns.

- timing is everything. Oregon basically bought a player through a scout and got a wrist slap. Johnny Football earned 10 - 15K with a Sharpie and sat for one half. Seem out of context? Well, since the 2A got disemboweled with the UM screw-up, a lot of backroom talk has bubbled up about the Big 64 joining up and becoming their own policing agency therefore keeping the money in house. This real-time threat is keeping the 2A from adding too much momentum to this talk by carpet-bombing institutions for infractions that were obviously from external pressures.

This isn't the best news by any stretch... but hopefully our usually pro-active UTAD compliance department (and some good timing) might simmer this down with minimum effect on our program.

FWBVol writes:

To quote that former fictitious Alabama football player, Forrest Gump, "My momma always said, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'"

johnlg00 writes:

in response to bUTch__please:

Gotta think -

- these infractions were on the previous staff. Doesn't excuse them, but Coach Jones and his staff have a perfect record with the 2A. may help with a soft landing like Coach Zo did with bball.

- the second this came up, Mo had concrete blocks poured on his feet and tossed off the docks. The seriousness of the allegations were not ignored.

- like John said, doesn't look like it's an institutional breakdown similar to the Oklahoma State fiasco. More of an uncontrolled, non-booster agent trolling possible clients.

- with the Bama connection in this, we won't get hit any harder than Bama will. Since Slive is running the 2A field office in B-ham, the shear amount of cash flow will soften any outlandish concerns.

- timing is everything. Oregon basically bought a player through a scout and got a wrist slap. Johnny Football earned 10 - 15K with a Sharpie and sat for one half. Seem out of context? Well, since the 2A got disemboweled with the UM screw-up, a lot of backroom talk has bubbled up about the Big 64 joining up and becoming their own policing agency therefore keeping the money in house. This real-time threat is keeping the 2A from adding too much momentum to this talk by carpet-bombing institutions for infractions that were obviously from external pressures.

This isn't the best news by any stretch... but hopefully our usually pro-active UTAD compliance department (and some good timing) might simmer this down with minimum effect on our program.

Several good points here. The NCAA has gone far lately toward bringing some well-deserved contempt on itself. As you say, this has led to a ground-swell of opinion in favor of the big-time football programs withdrawing from the NCAA and forming their own sanctioning body. However, as long as the NCAA exists in its present form and has any inclination to fight for its continued relevance, UT can't afford to push back too hard.

The thing we have to remember is that the NCAA is effectively the creation of the member college presidents. As long as a majority of them continue to support it, it might not be easy for the big schools to make a successful break. And of course the NCAA-member presidents have LOT$$$ of reason$$$ to defend the NCAA. If the NCAA reacts to such a defection by, say, cutting them off from the vast riches generated by the NCAA basketball tournaments, many of the football powers might have second thoughts. That sounds self-defeating on several levels, but good sense is a poor defense against bad decisions when egos, power, and money are involved.

OrangePride writes:

WOW! Fourteen big comments. Let's see, if I add mine, then that would be 2/3 of all the KNS subscriptions. Anyway, back to the point. Bray surprises no one! Couch? Really?? Gotta wonder just why an agent would be wooing Mo last season....doesn't seem reasonable does it? My question is just when did all this take place? After the season or during the season. If after the season, then would that not leave them as still eligible during the season? Then UT would still be on the hook for a violation, but perhaps not have to vacate games. IF (and it's a big IF) this proves to have substance, then it just tells me the state of Tennessee and everyone else needs to really write some stronger tampering laws regarding these unscrupulous agents. Let's see some $100,000 fines PER violation. Let's see some of these guys liable for civil action if a kid loses his scholarship. Let's come down on the real culprits!!! Yes, the athletes need to protect themselves, but some of these slimy dudes find ways no matter what. And even though it's Tennessee and a couple of others here, I am willing to bet there are dozens of these incidents. NOW GO VOLS!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to OrangePride:

WOW! Fourteen big comments. Let's see, if I add mine, then that would be 2/3 of all the KNS subscriptions. Anyway, back to the point. Bray surprises no one! Couch? Really?? Gotta wonder just why an agent would be wooing Mo last season....doesn't seem reasonable does it? My question is just when did all this take place? After the season or during the season. If after the season, then would that not leave them as still eligible during the season? Then UT would still be on the hook for a violation, but perhaps not have to vacate games. IF (and it's a big IF) this proves to have substance, then it just tells me the state of Tennessee and everyone else needs to really write some stronger tampering laws regarding these unscrupulous agents. Let's see some $100,000 fines PER violation. Let's see some of these guys liable for civil action if a kid loses his scholarship. Let's come down on the real culprits!!! Yes, the athletes need to protect themselves, but some of these slimy dudes find ways no matter what. And even though it's Tennessee and a couple of others here, I am willing to bet there are dozens of these incidents. NOW GO VOLS!!

Lots of questions here, but I'll take a stab at a few of them.

--Why Couch? I think he was a JC All-American. Even though he hasn't done much at UT, there was a chance he could develop. One account I saw said that the agent or the runner--hard to tell the "players" without a program--spread about $45,000 around; a few hundred each gives him potential leverage with dozens of possible future clients. It's like buying a lottery ticket; the odds of a payoff on a given one are low, but if just one player signs a big pro contract, the agent has a leg up in a very competitive industry.

--In season or out? If a player is on scholarship at a school, he is subject to NCAA eligibility rules at all times. How would it be better to give a player a sham, no-show job during the summer than to give him a little walking-around money during a season?

--Consequences for UT? Hard to say, but the NCAA is big on the idea of "institutional control". If school or program officials had no knowledge of the payments and couldn't reasonably be expected to know, the penalties would be lighter on the school than if they DID know and most of the consequences would fall on the individuals who got the benefits.

--Legal penalties? A number of states have recently strengthened penalties against unauthorized agent contacts, but these things are inherently difficult to investigate and prove. Unless somebody talks, it is hard to make any charges stick. So in the short term, it really is up to the schools to recruit players with character and to educate them on the dangers of such associations. However, as many sports commentators are saying now, the issue isn't so much that the rules are being broken as it is that the rules themselves no longer reflect the realities of big-time modern sports.

sadim13tn#1425307 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

To quote that former fictitious Alabama football player, Forrest Gump, "My momma always said, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'"

FWBVol,

Best comment about this subject. I agree with you. Just what we needed, NO RESPECT!

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