Coach Lane Kiffin watches a USC football practice at Howard Jones Field… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
Lane Kiffin can officially put his year at Tennessee behind him.
The NCAA's Committee on Infractions announced sanctions against Tennessee on Wednesday, but an examination of the Volunteers' athletic program did not turn up evidence to support allegations Kiffin had committed major rules violations. Therefore, he was not penalized.
"I'm pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception," Kiffin said in a statement.
Kiffin was Tennessee's football coach for one season before leaving for USC in January 2010. He appeared before the committee in June.
The NCAA hit Tennessee with a "failure to monitor" violation and two years of probation. Former Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl was cited for unethical conduct and received a three-year "show-cause order," virtually banning him from coaching at an NCAA school for three years. Each of his three former assistant coaches received one-year show-cause orders for major violations.
The NCAA enforcement staff had alleged that Kiffin failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the Volunteers football program and failed to monitor members of his staff, four of whom followed him to USC.
The Committee on Infractions found that Kiffin's staff committed 12 secondary violations connected to recruiting.
"Some of the violations received nationwide publicity and brought the football program into public controversy," the NCAA report said. "This is not a record of which to be proud. Nevertheless, because the violations individually were secondary and most were isolated, the committee, in the end, determined not to make a finding of a major violation."
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden, who attended Kiffin's hearing in Indianapolis, said, "I believe the NCAA's decision is fair and based on the facts presented…. From the time he arrived at USC, Lane Kiffin has been extremely compliant regarding NCAA rules and I feel confident that he will continue to be so."