Vols' Brown cleared in eligibility probe

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee freshman tailback Bryce Brown will not be punished as the result of an NCAA investigation into his eligibility, coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday.

"I think that that's a heck of a deal by the NCAA to get it done right and get it done with a sense of urgency, so we're very grateful for that," Kiffin said.

The NCAA was reviewing whether money was improperly raised for Brown to visit colleges and collegiate football camps during his sophomore year of high school. Tennessee was not recruiting him at the time.

Kiffin said the NCAA was considering a four-game suspension and a hefty fine as punishment initially, but continued to review the case until deciding to drop it.

The coach said he spoke with NCAA officials and Brown wrote a letter to the organization arguing his case.

"I think that's something that in recruiting over the years you know is very common. People or towns assist players as they grow up," Kiffin said. "That's something that goes on a lot, and I'm sure that weighed into it. But by no means was it something Bryce was doing knowing that it would be wrong."

Brown was recruited out of Wichita, Kan., as one of the top high school prospects in 2009, and committed to the Volunteers after letting a scholarship offer from Miami expire.

"I'm just glad the NCAA process works," Brian Butler, Brown's trainer and mentor, told ESPN.com's Joe Schad."I'm just glad the evidence showed we didn't do anything wrong. I'm just glad Bryce gets to play right away."

He's spent significant time playing with the Vols' first team offense during fall camp, and Kiffin has repeatedly praised his progress.

Kiffin had considered limiting Brown's practice time in advance of the Vols' Sept. 5 opener against Western Kentucky in case he was suspended but chose not to because he was so confident Brown would be cleared.

"I really believed that they were going to get this right," Kiffin said. "I really spent time explaining who this kid is and what he's about. Obviously this is not a kid that should be punished for something like this."

ESPN's Joe Schad and The Associated Press contributed to this report.