KNOXVILLE – The NCAA has announced additional penalties for the University of Tennessee football program stemming from major violations committed by a “former assistant coach” in 2009.
A release from the University of Tennessee identifies that coach as Willie Mack Garza.
Garza was a defensive backs coach under former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin in 2009. He followed Kiffin to Southern California in early 2010 but resigned from his staff on Sept. 1, 2011 in the midst of the NCAA investigation.
Garza reimbursed Willie Lyles, an individual associated with former running back recruit Lache Seastrunk, for airfare and lodging for an unofficial visit made by Seastrunk in the summer of 2009. Assistance for travel is permissible under NCAA rules for official visits, but not unofficial ones.
Seastrunk ended up signing with Oregon but has since transferred to Baylor.
The additional penalties levied on Tennessee’s football program by the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions on Friday include:
• Public reprimand and censure.
• A two-year extension of the probation period imposed in the August 2011 report from August 24, 2013 through August 23, 2015.
• Three-year show-cause order for the former assistant coach. The public report contains further details.
• The current football staff is limited to hosting 47 official visits (normally 51) for the 2012-13 academic year.
• Reduction of evaluation days by four (from 168 to 164) by the current football staff during the spring 2012 evaluation period.
For football unofficial visits during the fall of 2013, no complimentary tickets may be provided to visiting prospective student-athletes for the first two conference games of the season.
These penalties are in addition to a series of self-imposed restrictions Tennessee put on itself in the summer of 2011 following a series of violations committed by both former basketball coach Bruce Pearl and his staff in addition to Kiffin and his staff.
Garza was also given a three-year show-cause order on Friday, meaning that any NCAA school that attempts to hire him in the next three years would have to "show cause" in a hearing to the NCAA Committee on Infractions for why it should avoid NCAA penalties for making that hire.
These additional penalties are minor in nature and unlikely to have a crippling effect on the program, but it's another publicity hit for a school that will likely be searching for a new football coach in the coming month. The extension of probation until 2015 will extend some of the painful memories from the short-lived Kiffin era in Knoxville.
"We will finally close the chapter on the prior actions of members of a previous football coaching staff," said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at Tennessee via a release. "We have significantly strengthened our culture of compliance at Tennessee and will continue to do so. We disagree with additional penalties for a matter we believed should have been part of the previous case. We will now move forward."
Sign up for our email list to get your morning news delivered directly to your inbox. All we need is your email address.