The more you hear about the NCAA's ongoing investigation into Tennessee's recruiting practices under former coach Lane Kiffin, the clearer it is that this probe is much broader than a couple of recruiting hostesses making a trip last September to see a high school football game in Duncan, S.C.
That trip by members of the now-defunct Orange Pride group may have been one of the things that prompted the NCAA to start turning over rocks, but it's mushroomed into something much bigger now. For Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton to admit that a letter of inquiry is probably coming, that's telling. The unnerving thing for Hamilton and the rest of the university is that there's no way to know at this point what the NCAA has or what all has turned up in its probe.
This thing has been going on for nearly six months, and the latest news is that the NCAA wants to interview former Tennessee running back Bryce Brown, who was Kiffin's most heralded recruit in the Vols' 2009 class. Browns' father, Arthur Brown, told ESPN's Joe Schad that they asked to delay that meeting with the NCAA while preparing for Brown's appeal on his release, an appeal that was heard via teleconference on Wednesday. Current Tennessee coach Derek Dooley refused to release Brown from his scholarship, meaning he would have to pay his own way this first year at Kansas State, which is where Brown's older brother plays.
When the Vols signed Brown, a showy deal that dragged out well past signing day, you could almost guess that the NCAA would come snooping around at some point. Remember, Brown had an "adviser" at the time (Brian Butler), and Butler initially was charging for updates concerning Brown's recruitment on a website. Before Brown was cleared to play at Tennessee as a freshman, the NCAA looked into whether his amateur status had been violated.
Well, here we are now -- some 16 months after Brown ended his recruiting circus by signing with the Vols -- and neither Brown nor Kiffin is still around.
The NCAA hasn't gone anywhere, though, which makes you wonder what kind of price Tennessee might end up having to pay.