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USC is notified of NCAA allegations involving Lane Kiffin's stint at Tennessee

Trojans Athletic Director Pat Haden says Kiffin has his support in face of allegations football coach 'failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance' with Volunteers. A hearing is set for June.

February 23, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • According to an NCAA investigation, USC Coach Lane Kiffin "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance" during his short tenure as Tennessee coach in 2009.
According to an NCAA investigation, USC Coach Lane Kiffin "failed… (Sam Greenwood / Getty Images )

Lane Kiffin's short, tumultuous stay at Tennessee continues to reverberate a year into his tenure at USC, which announced Wednesday that it had received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding the football coach's 14 months with the Volunteers.

The NCAA conducted a 22-month investigation into Tennessee's men's basketball and football programs. Most of the allegations concern Volunteers basketball Coach Bruce Pearl and his staff.

The NCAA alleges that Kiffin "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance of several assistant football coaches ... and an athletics administrator involved with the football program who reported directly or indirectly to Kiffin."

If Kiffin is ultimately penalized, the punishments could include limits on recruiting at USC and, possibly, suspension from games. The new allegations will not be a factor in an NCAA decision regarding USC's appeal to earlier sanctions placed on its football program.

USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said in a statement: "The NCAA enforcement process provides for Tennessee and Lane to address those charges. Until that process is completed, it would be unfair and premature for me or USC to comment on this matter.

"However, I will say this: Since his return to USC last year as our head football coach, Lane has been vigilant in making sure he and the football program follow the NCAA's rules and compete the right way. Lane has my support as our head football coach."

Kiffin declined to comment about the allegations.

"On the advice of my legal counsel, we cannot comment other than to say we look forward to working through the process with the NCAA," he said in a statement.

Recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, assistant head coach for defense Monte Kiffin, secondary coach Willie Mack Garza and offensive line coach James Cregg, who also came to USC from Tennessee, are not named in the allegations. Most of the references to members of Kiffin's Tennessee staff were as "Assistant Coach 1" and "Assistant Coach 2," etc.

Kiffin, hired by former USC athletic director Mike Garrett, was introduced as Pete Carroll's successor at USC on Jan. 13, 2010.

The allegations pertaining to him include:

•That football staff members made 16 impermissible phone calls to recruits from Jan. 3-9, 2010. The calls were made after the staff was informed in December that the calls were impermissible.

•That Kiffin permitted a recruiting intern to make impermissible off-campus contact with high school staff members. The NCAA said Kiffin had been told by the program's director of football operations that the intern was not permitted to enter a high school's property while accompanying a coach on a recruiting trip.

•An allegation that former assistant David Reaves, Kiffin's brother-in-law, requested that impermissible telephone contact be made with recruits by a third party — reportedly Tennessee hostesses.

Tennessee and Kiffin have 90 days to respond to the allegations. A hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions is scheduled for June.

Penalties for infractions at previous schools can follow coaches to their next job.

For example, Rick Neuheisel, while coaching at Washington, was not allowed to recruit off campus for most of the 2002-03 academic year because of violations that occurred during his tenure at Colorado.

gary.klein@latimes.com

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