Tis the season for NCAA investigations.
Yesterday, Sports Illustrated revealed a ton of dirt that they have on Oklahoma State, dating back to 2001.
Today it was the SEC’s turn, as five players from three different teams were implicated in a investigative report from Yahoo! Sports.
Among those five players are former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray and current Vols defensive lineman Maurice “Mo” Couch.
The other players implicated are former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive lineman D.J. Fluker and former Mississippi State Bulldogs Chad Bumphis and Fletcher Cox.
The report alleges that both Bray and Couch received payments from Luther Davis, a former Alabama Crimson Tide player. Apparently Davis was the vessel being used for the distribution of money from agents to players.
Yahoo! Sports authenticated six transactions connected to Maurice Couch and Tyler Bray, with amounts ranging from $200-$700.
The paper-trail that Yahoo! Sports secured is pretty impressive. It appears that Bray and Couch definitely received impermissible benefits, that much is clear. The evidence includes Western Union wire transfer receipts that have indeed been authenticated by Western Union.
The biggest question now of course is “how will this affect Tennessee?”
Considering Tennessee is on probation (through 2015), the repercussions have the chance to be severe.
While it’s still unclear what kind of penalties, if any, that Tennessee will incur, it’s unlikely that they’ll be forced to vacate any wins — at least from this season.
That’s because the coaches this season, presumably, weren’t aware that Couch had taken payments from agents. For that reason alone there would be no basis for the NCAA to force Tennessee to vacate any wins from this season.
It will also be hard to prove that the coaching staff last season was aware of any payments that were received by Bray or Couch.
As far as other penalties go, that’s incredibly hard to predict, given the inconsistent nature of the NCAA.
For what it’s worth, Maurice Couch will not play this Saturday against Oregon, according to Butch Jones’ comments on Wednesday night’s Vol Calls. Jones attributed Couch’s absence to “heat exhaustion”, which is a poor way of saying “We’re pretty sure he’s ineligible, but we aren’t saying that yet, however he definitely isn’t playing”.
Jones also offered a brief comment about the situation on Vol Calls.
Jones: The only thing I can comment is what we have done. We take great pride in our agent education and our compliance education. We are well aware of it and we have been educating our players since we walked in the door.
Initial reaction to this report was doom and gloom, myself included. However, it’s best to just be patient and let this play out. Rarely do these things end up giving birth to severe penalties, like our first reactions indicate they will.
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