NCAA imposes more sanctions on UT for Kiffin-era infractions

NCAA imposes more sanctions on UT for Kiffin-era infractions


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The NCAA handed down new sanctions against the University of Tennessee related to infractions involving former assistant coach Willie Mack Garza during the 2009 season.

Garza coached on the staff of head coach Lane Kiffin.

The penalties 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 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.

According to the university and the NCAA, Garza funded a prospect's unofficial visit to the school in 2009 and subsequently lied to the enforcement staff when interviewed as an employee at the University of Southern California.

The university agreed that Garza had committed the infractions, but could not reach a consensus regarding the penalties, so the sanctions were determined during an expedited penalty hearing in October.

"We will finally close the chapter on the prior actions of members of a previous football coaching staff," said UT Athletic Director Dave Hart. "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."

The NCAA and the school were at odds over whether the penalty in the 2011 case would have been significantly different if the facts of the case had been known at that time, whether the university should be punished for unethical conduct by a former staff member who has since began working at another institution and whether the penalties were grounded in precedent and related to the violation.

The Committee on Infractions said they were establishing new precedent in the case and others moving forward.

"The University of Tennessee worked in full cooperation with the NCAA throughout this process," said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. "We were disappointed with the initial penalties and appealed on two occasions, in writing and at the hearing in Florida. Although we disagree with the additional penalties, we accept the decision of the Committee. I am proud of the stronger compliance structure we have instituted at the University of Tennessee."

UT, the NCAA and Garza have all acknowledged that during the summer of 2009, Garza reimbursed Will Lyles, who was associated with prospect Lache Seastrunk, for airfare and hotel expenses for an unofficial visit for Seastrunk and his mother.

Because Lyles arranged the trip for Seastrunk, the NCAA classified him as a school booster.

This visit took place two months before the allowed time period for prospects to make expense-paid visits.

In August 2010 while employed at USC, Garza was interviewed by the NCAA Enforcement Staff and failed to disclose information concerning the impermissible visit.

In a subsequent Aug. 2011 interview, Garza again denied the activities until presented with objective proof of the financial transfer, at which time he admitted his role in the incident.

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