Vols' football hit with new penalties from Kiffin era - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Vols' football hit with new penalties from Kiffin era

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WRCB) - The NCAA has extended Tennessee's probation for two years as part of penalties handed down Friday following the ruling that former football assistant coach Willie Mack Garza provided impermissible travel and lodging to a prospect.

The major violations were committed during Garza's time on Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee in 2009.

Penalties include a reduction of the football program's official recruiting visits from 51 to 47 through May, a reduction in evaluation days and barring UT from giving complimentary tickets to recruits for unofficial visits for the first two SEC games of the 2013 season.

Tennessee's probation now also runs through Aug. 23, 2015.

"We will finally close the chapter on the prior actions of members of a previous football coaching staff," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement. "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."

Garza received a three-year show-cause order. Any school hiring him must prove to the NCAA that it is rules compliant.

The NCAA ruled Garza reimbursed talent scout Will Lyles for plane tickets and hotel expenses associated with an unofficial visit Lache Seastrunk made in 2009. The visit occurred outside the permissible time period for expense-paid visits.

Seastrunk eventually signed with Oregon and now plays for Baylor.

The NCAA Committee on Infractions had originally closed the case in 2011, but reopened the investigation when its staff uncovered new information related to Garza.

In a release, the committee said it "did not have a complete picture" of the violations at the time, so it was forced to set a new precedent by adding further sanctions after the fact.

Tennessee had argued the new information wasn't enough to warrant additional penalties.

"The University of Tennessee worked in full cooperation with the NCAA throughout this process," said UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek in a statement. "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."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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