Pic shows UT hostesses with recruits; heat rises on Vols

Well, this Tennessee story just keeps better and better, doesn’t it?

I’m not sure how many of you caught the latest updates over the weekend. If not, I’ll catch you up this morning.

When last we left the story, the players and coaches at Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., were telling everybody how, yes, they did see the infamous Tennessee hostesses holding up signs in the crowd at their game back in September. But, they insisted, they made sure they didn’t talk to them or interact with them in any way.

That prompted my old friend Andy Staples, recruiting analyst for SI.com (I first knew him as an AJC intern, then the Gators’ beat guy from Tampa) to go back and look at his camera. Andy recalled being at the game in question to get some advance material for Byrnes’ monumental, nationally-televised matchup against St. Thomas Aquinas down in Fort Lauderdale the following week. He vaguely recalled seeing some oddly over-dressed girls on the field after the game. And sure enough, there it was in 3.3 megapixels: Vols commitments Corey Miller and Brandon Willis posing for pictures with UT hostesses Lacey Earps and Dahra Johnson as they talked and interacted on the field after the game (click link to see for yourself).

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, at the least it proves yet another secondary violation for the Vols. That’d be number seven for football in the last year if you’re keeping count, and the SEC is. It violates NCAA rules regarding contact with a representative of the school’s athletics interest. But that’s just the beginning.

As reported last week, Byrnes coach Chris Miller said he called Tennessee assistant coach David Reaves to inform Tennessee of his players’ encounter with the roadie-hostesses. But so far there has been no evidence that the Vols forwarded that information on to the SEC, which is again a violation. Now you’re starting to get into the area of “institutional control.” And those are two scary words in the world of NCAA compliance.

Meanwhile, the New York Times, which broke the initial story about the Vols’ alleged misuse of recruiting hostesses, uncovered another problem in its latest update of the ongoing NCAA investigation. We learn that Steve Rubio, a “recruiting intern” for Tennessee, flew with coach Lane Kiffin from Knoxville to Fort Lauderdale to visit coaches and prospects at St. Thomas Aquinas this fall. Rubio, who played football at Aquinas while in high school, is not permitted to recruit for the Vols. But, by Kiffin’s own admission, Rubio accompanied him into the school. Asked if Rubio talked to any recruits while there, Kiffin said to another media outlet, “not that I know of.”

Again, you ask, what’s the big deal?  Well, it’s Kiffin’s job to know such things. And not then, but beforehand. College coaches, especially those in the SEC, are expected to check out such scenarios before the fact. That’s why these schools pay substantial salaries for “compliance directors” and their many assistants. The general rule in compliance is, “if you’re not sure if something is permissible, ask to be sure.” And then if you can’t reach anybody to tell you, “don’t do it.”

Yet continually Kiffin seems to subscribe to the philosophy of ask forgiveness, not permission.

What I think is ultimately going to cause Kiffin problems is his arrogance. With all this heat flaring up all around (two assistants left his staff last week, too), Kiffin has had the gall to say that all the NCAA scrutiny actually is a compliment to the Vols’ recruiting prowess under his leadership.

After this past Saturday’s practice, Kiffin told reporters:

“I think when it comes to recruiting, we’re at the highest level, and I think that people really want to know what we’re doing. They want to know how are we able to get interest from so many great players, and sign so many great players, so I think you have a lot of people coming at us.”

In a slightly different interpretation in GoVolsXtra.com, Kiffin said:

“I know that we’ve done a phenomenal job in recruiting. I know that it’s very competitive around the country with the kids that we go after and within this conference. I think that anytime you’re operating at the level we’re operating at in recruiting, people are going to come after us. . . . People will always try to take shots at us, they’ll always try to bring us down. But it won’t matter.”

That just tells me Kiffin doesn’t get it. Or at least he wasn’t listening.

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive addressed the perception that secondary violations were nitpicky and no big deal at SEC Football Media Days back in July in Birmingham and warned that multiple offenders could expect more severe repercussions.

“As we told our coaches earlier this week in our SEC new coaches orientation program, any time they commit a secondary violation, they place themselves, their program, and the institution and the prospect at risk. The risk may be lost recruiting opportunities, lost ability to interact with prospects and additional scrutiny for themselves and their program. . . . A key aspect of our review of ’secondaries’ is to determine if there’s a pattern beginning to emerge at an institution, within a sport or around a particular individual, be it coach, administrator or prospect. When trends are detected, the penalties and corrective actions become more severe.”

That Vols’ recruiting class for 2010 is indeed impressive. It remains to be seen if it will have all been worth it.

411 comments Add your comment


December 14th, 2009
5:14 am

Steve Spurrier

December 14th, 2009
5:14 am

First! I turned the little punk in. Didn’t he take that test? Now you know why I asked.


December 14th, 2009
5:40 am

Geez leweez. Good article Mr. Towers. Very funny.

BTW, enjoyed you on the Buck Belue show this past season. You were a lot of fun to listen to.

Itty Bitty Wayne

December 14th, 2009
5:56 am


December 14th, 2009
6:01 am

Where theres smoke theres always fire


December 14th, 2009
6:02 am

Tim, keep up the good work for the locals. It’s bound to help us as we try to lure some of the local talent our way. Do you have anymore contacts with pics that we can use?Keep me posted.

HardTruth Soldier

December 14th, 2009
6:07 am

HardTruth coming UT’s way soon! No woman, no Cry!


December 14th, 2009
6:14 am

Boy Blunder is a working secondary violation to the coaching business!! RTR


December 14th, 2009
6:18 am

Lane says the photo was Photo Shopped. This jerk has an answer for everything.


December 14th, 2009
6:23 am

Brandon Willis is turning into a very good liar just like Kiffin (read the SI article). That boy has no character. Who wants this damn liar on their team?


December 14th, 2009
6:23 am

I love it! I knew he would screw up! It is just happening WAY quicker than I thought.


December 14th, 2009
6:25 am

what is a “recruiting intern”?
Does that mean this Rubio guy is on staff, is a student trainer for the team, a grad assistant, what?


December 14th, 2009
6:44 am

SEC, scandal everywhere conference. are the bullcons out of Clarke County jail for the holidays, if so, I need to lock up my car, home and daughters.

Top Dawg

December 14th, 2009
6:49 am

Some people know no shame.

Eddy Merckx

December 14th, 2009
6:50 am

what 2 coaches left UT???


December 14th, 2009
7:09 am

Phil Fulmer would have just sent doughnuts, not “oddly over-dressed girls.” How, exactly, does this differ from hiring escorts for the recruits? Kiffin is a creep and not good for the SEC and, in the end, for Tennessee. The question is, will Tennessee dig in its heels and fight for him or admit that he needs to be reigned in and take steps to do so? Time will tell…

Phat Phil

December 14th, 2009
7:12 am

This whole thing is a bunch of baloney! Nothing but a witch hunt and just give UGA rednecks something to wish for. You all had better be more concerned whats going on over in Athens with Reverend Richt. So you all can pucker up and kiss my “Big Orange”!! Rocky Top…..wooooooooooo!!


December 14th, 2009
7:13 am

Could there be a bigger moron? And to think I faulted Al Davis…


1st year law student

December 14th, 2009
7:15 am

Believe it or not, every major school has girls like this. The real problem is how they use them, not having them. I went to undergrad at UGA and now am in law school there. I meet Georgia’s girls at the Tennessee tech game this year.(only some of them are on the sidelines during each game) They are just suppose to hang out and show the recruits around, but the idea is “sex sells”, even if they do not actually do anything. Tennessee’s problem is a loud mouth coach who got attention and getting the girls to go to a recruits high school. And yes the girls were hot, with big boobs, and weren’t afraid to show a lot of cleveage.(spelling)

mike on lake hartwell

December 14th, 2009
7:15 am

a side-show freak.

a complete circus.


December 14th, 2009
7:17 am

One other note: Byrnes commented to SI that the “girls stayed alone in a local hotel room.” How would he know? How would that even come up with these recruits in a conversation after a football game? I call BS. This is nothing but an escort service being run by Kiffin. Not only should the NCAA be looking in to it, but the parents of these “Orange Pride” girls should wonder why the Vols football program has their daughters dressing up, driving to other states late on Friday nights, and pays for them to have hotel rooms and hit on high school players. I’m sorry, but the whole thing sounds like a Kiffin hooker service.

Dawg Man

December 14th, 2009
7:17 am


Jim Donnan

December 14th, 2009
7:21 am

How many secondary violations did Oklahoma, UGA, and Auburn have? Yet they are not going to make the news because they have boring head coaches.

Sloppy Top

December 14th, 2009
7:23 am

No Tennessee fans claiming this is all a fabricated lie or something? Where are the hillbillies?


December 14th, 2009
7:28 am

Kiffin has snubbed his nose at the SEC and the NCAA. Unless the hammer is brought down on the Vols, he will continue to do whatever he wants. What’s the point of having rules if Tennessee doesn’t abide by them? Kiffin must think the rules are —- for everybody else.


December 14th, 2009
7:32 am

it is just a matter of time(maybe, very soon) before this situation blows up in his face.


December 14th, 2009
7:37 am

Hey Chip, You should do a little more fact finding (real journalism)before printing such an article where you have “no” proof that UT has violated any NCAA rules: (1) There is no proof that UT sent those girls (who are employed by the admission’s office not the atheltic department) to SC to recruit. (2) Rubio is Kiffin’s personal assistant on recruiting trips to South FLA. Has there been any proof that he had contact with any recruits while visiting the school? NO…………(3) How does UT’s 6 secondary violations compare to other FBS schools over the past 12 months? Would love for you to do some journalism research and report back with your findings…..hint, start by looking at Oklahoma or even South Carolina or maybe Florida. I beleive you find that UT’s 6 is irrelevant to other big time programs.

Good luck with your smear tatics………The Big Orange is back!!


December 14th, 2009
7:46 am

who is the high school coach who found his players drinking in a hotel with the UTgirls?

Florida Dawg

December 14th, 2009
7:46 am

I just hope Kiffin can use the hostesses to beat Florida….so far only Bama can do it.
Someone needs to step up to the plate and get the job done….good for UT.
I’m sick of losing to Florida and it appears that Kiffin understands the UT fans are too.


December 14th, 2009
7:51 am

zzzz. So another slap on the wrist – do any of you really think this is a major scandal? And can this guy write about any schools other than UT and UGA? This is like a home away from home sports section with as much coverage as we receive.

Oh, and love those clever, original references to hillbillies from some of you.

Kiffin is Richt's New Daddy

December 14th, 2009
7:53 am

I w i l l t y p e r e a l l y s l o w s o y o u G e o r g i a r e d n e c k s c a n k e e p u p. U T d i d N O T
d i r e c t t h e s e g i r l s t o g o t o t h e s e g a m e s. T h e y w e n t o n t h e i r o w n. K i f f i n a n d
U T w i l l o w n U G A f o r y e a r s t o c o m e. G e t u s e d t o i t. E n j o y S h r e v e p o r t ! L M A O


December 14th, 2009
7:55 am

I just don’t see why any school or fanbase would want their football program to be involved in such seemingly sleezy methods of recruitment. You should be able to enjoy football without feeling like your team is kicking morality to the curve in order to improve the prospects of winning.


December 14th, 2009
7:57 am

Jimmy cracked Corn

December 14th, 2009
7:58 am

I still cant understand how Tenn beat UGA so bad. Maybe the dawgs had some girlie players that day? I’m still hurting from it.


December 14th, 2009
7:59 am

Is anyone really naive enough to think that UGA and Mark Richt are not guilty of at least as many recruiting violations as UT? This is the scandal that’s waiting to blow Kiffin off the front pages.

Nick Satan

December 14th, 2009
8:02 am

Ole Misssey put a whoopin on some over grown lizards down in Ben-Urine stadium just last year. Missey St gets some Gator tail, ain’t that hard. Just about to get a whole lot easier now that Tim Tearybow the kleenex wonder boy want be swapin spit with Urine Myer anymore. Maybe that explains the dehydration after the Alabanana game, they werent in love anymore.


December 14th, 2009
8:05 am

CBEZ, as to point one, the picture is proof of a recruiting violation. Whether TN sent them or even knew about them is irrelevant per the rules, it is off campus recruiting which they are not allowed to do, the severity of the violation is dependent on whether the school knew or sent them but there are two violations here, 1)the girls went and 2) the did not self report in a timely manner. If they paid for transport or the hotel for the girls, Tn is in a lot of trouble.
2) Rubio was at the school with Kiffin. That is just plain stupid. Kiffin claims he didn’t recruit because the players were at practice so then why did they go.

Take the orange colored glasses off. TN has gotten away with murder in the past but Phil got them off every time. No one is going to do Lame any favors now. TN will get what they deserve for hiring that bozo.

Give 'em probation!

December 14th, 2009
8:07 am

Tennessee has been finding ways to break the NCAA rules for decades. I am glad to see it finally catch up with those cheaters! They’ve earned every bit of negative publicity they’ve received. Kiffin is just too stupid to be as sneaky as his predecessor and he’s going to pay the price.


December 14th, 2009
8:07 am

In my experience following the dawgs and college football for almost 50 years, I have a feeling that Mr Kiffin will just cruise on by this little bump. GA girls, Gator girls, red elephant girls? This has been a tradition on campus for decades. This is a little extended. I must agree that it looks kinda trashy. Since Kiffin is not going to do anything but step up these stunts, maybe we should be updated to see if parents of these girls get involved. If not, that is another smudge on a good institution of learning. I may be pure blood dawg, but we should be proud of every SEC school for the grads they produce (as well as every school in USA). Our football teams should bring us together in good ole’ fashion hate. But TENN needs to think about what is happening. (Front page lurid sex is what is being doled out beginning with the sinful NY Times of all things.) In the Knoxville area for years in those hills if wasn’t for licker’ stills and speed traps folks would have starved. Having UT is a point of pride. Those fans, (and friends of ours) need to sit up and take notice. UGA and every school has bumps. If that bump turns into a big pothole how will it feel? Even if they win the SEC next year the respect will be missing and a stain will be there if they don’t clean it up.


December 14th, 2009
8:10 am

“is the dark side stronger?”
“no, easier, more seductive.”

Lane, I am your father.


December 14th, 2009
8:11 am

There may be no proof that the girls were sent by UT, but doesn’t it sound a little fishy? College girls that work with athletics, even if they’re paid by the admissions office their job is being a hostess for the athletic recruits. I know when I went to college to visit I didn’t get hostesses like that. Why would college girls travel that far to see a high school football game? I just think it is too easy to connect the dots here.
As far as the Rubio guy, if I was kiffin and have had all these recruiting violations I would’ve talked with the guy beforehand and told him he cannot recruit. Then when reporters asked me that’s what I would’ve told them, not “I don’t know.”
Finally, the whole bit kiffin gives about this being a compliment is just bs. It’s kiffins way of trying to put a positive spin on this for tennessee fans/recruits reading all of this. He may be doing a good job recruiting, but is it that great that the NCAA wants to find out what he’s doing? Is it that much better then USC, UF, or any other of the top programs out there? I doubt it.

Vol Navy

December 14th, 2009
8:12 am

UGA needs to worry about whats going on in their own backyard. Just check the Clarke County Police blotter to see which UGA athlete has been arrested lately. The NCAA is grasping at straws on this one. No doubt another SEC coach ( Meyer, Saban, Spurrier, Richt ?? ) made a “secret” phone call to put some heat on the UT program and Kiffin. I will admit Kiffin comes across as a little brash. Foolmer had let the program become so stale it was growing mold. These girls went to the football game on their own. Their sign did not read “Come to UT” as was widely reported. UT neither directed them or funded them. CASE CLOSED. Stick to yelling “Sic’em Woof Woof”. When is your bowl game again?


December 14th, 2009
8:19 am

Damn good IDEA! I wonder if CPJ can follow suit….. I’ll be glad to recruit the GT girls…. I mean, your really need to be very selective when picking the right females…

East Atlanta

December 14th, 2009
8:25 am

Way to turn out girls like a common street pimp, UT. Their daddies must be so proud. Are they hoping that their experience with the “Orange Pride” will land them a position in one of the big firms, like The Cheetah Club?


December 14th, 2009
8:31 am

Vol Navy – You are actually saying something about UGA and arrests? Seriously?!?! Our players get in trouble for having an expired license. While stupid, not a big cause for concern.

At Tennessee, your players get arrested for robbing people. Slightly different.

How is the NCAA grasping at straws? Since the moment Kiffen arrived, he’s done nothing but paint a big bullseye on his back. He’s arrogant, and doesn’t know the rules, at least doesn’t think they apply to him. The more they dig, the more they’re going to uncover. I have a feeling this is only the beginning of the end for Kiffin….


December 14th, 2009
8:31 am


J Stephenson

December 14th, 2009
8:32 am

Vol Navy.

Uhhmm, Drinking is bad. But wouldn’t shop lifting and armed robbery be just a little worse than driving without a license or student drinking.


December 14th, 2009
8:34 am

Lame snubbs his nose at everyone and then wonders why he’s being looked at. Moron. Does he not think that other coaches will be more inclined to report stuff when he’s making inane comments about them? Or Slive?

Does he really think it’s a good think to be investigated? Really? I’m sure that when a cop stops me that it’s because I’m driving really well. I’m also sure that anyone who see’s me pulled over thinks I’m totally innocent. Moron.

Vol folk – How do you know that these girls went down there on their own? Frankly, that would surprise me FAR more than if they hadn’t. Not reporting it, after all these other secondary violations looks really bad. Not to mention the coach and players in question being caught in a lie about there ebing no contact.

Lastly, I love the excuse of, well other schools do it. Why am I not surprised that Vol fans would take the line of two wrongs make a right? Morons!


Hillary Clinton

December 14th, 2009
8:36 am

You make it look easy, Bill….


December 14th, 2009
8:37 am

Hey SuperB, you should know about the hammer. Tennessee left hammer marks all over the pups, which took their own hammer to the windshield material jackets. All this, which is great for the internet, and advertising, and website hits, will pass right on by. You crackers are unbelievable, right after the “hammer” came down in october, you guys wanted Kiffin as your coach, somebody with balls, not the reverend. UT will own GA no matter who the coach is.