Thursday, February 24, 2011

Traveling Violations

This week the University of Tennessee released the NCAA’s “Notice of Allegations” against its football and men’s basketball team, outlining eleven violations. Both current men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former (albeit brief) football coach Lane Kiffin were cited for multiple violations. While many are predicting sanctions against the University of Tennessee, Bruce Pearl, and possibly the Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton, what is interesting is whether the NCAA will impose further sanctions on Lane Kiffin now that he is the head football coach at USC.
Historically, coaches have left town before the NCAA hammer comes down, often resulting in infractions on the school and players left behind but not on the coach himself—John Calipari anyone? However, on occasion the NCAA has imposed penalties on coaches themselves even if they are employed at a new school. In the NCAA’s Manual, Bylaw 19.5 gives the NCAA the right to impose penalties on either an institution or individual—with no restrictions on whether that individual is still at the institution at which they committed the infraction.
This has happened at least twice within the last decade. Specifically, Rick Neuheisel was punished in 2002 while at the University of Washington for violations he was deemed to have made at the University of Colorado. More recently, in 2008 Kelvin Sampson was punished while at Indiana University for conduct he engaged in while at the University of Oklahoma.
It will be interesting to follow whether or not the NCAA will impose some form of punishment on Lane Kiffin now that he is in charge of the football program at USC. If this does happen, does USC have a claim against Kiffin and/or the University of Tennessee?