Fulmer was too busy sweeping for dirt at Alabama's back door to monitor his own. He's reaped what he sowed.
In the world of college sports, coaches, enterprising reporters and fans are often the ones to turn in and rat out alleged cheating at rival schools. What you don’t often see is a player squealing on his own alma mater.
Last Friday, it became public knowledge that ex-Tennessee running back Arian Foster had told a documentary crew that he had received money (and several free tacos) as a Volunteer senior. His stated goal was to expose the unfair nature of the NCAA. Well, while his anti-NCAA message was heard, the immediate damage might be felt by his old school, not college sports’ governing body.
In squawking, Foster joins another ex-SEC player who once tried to achieve an altruistic goal, only to (potentially) wreck his old school. Auburn defensive back Eric Ramsey tried to expose the racism that exists for black players at predominately white university. But in the end, he released tapes that revealed then-AU coach Pat Dye had loaned him money and called a loan officer on his behalf. For helping Ramsey, Dye wound up losing his job and the Tiger program got smacked by the NCAA for paying players, for running a bonus program for big hits and touchdowns, etc.
Did Auburn deserve to be punished for the egregious violations taking place in its football program? Yes. Should Ramsey have been one to go public? No. If a player sticks his hand out, takes money and then talks about it after the fact… he’s a rat. Finking shows no appreciation for those who tried to aid the player, whether they were right or wrong in attempting to provide such aid.
Foster is now in Ramsey’s circle when it comes to taking cash/food/aid only to do damage to those people whose help he’d received. And he’s not exactly helping new Tennessee coach Butch Jones, either.
One of Jones’ predecessors in Knoxville has said he knew nothing of payments to Foster. According to Phillip Fulmer:
“As the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, I took great pride in having a program that was NCAA compliant, as did our staff and administration. If we knew of a violation, big or small, we reported it.”
So could Tennessee be looking at Auburn-style fallout from the NCAA? Probably not. That’s probably not.
The Volunteer program is currently on probation until August of 2015. That probation stems from activities during the Lane Kiffin (football), Bruce Pearl (basketball) and Mike Hamilton (athletic director) era at Tennessee in 2009-10. All three of those figures are now gone from the UT athletic department.
But just two weeks ago, Tennessee was one of three SEC schools (Alabama and Mississippi State were the others) to learn that Yahoo! Sports had found evidence that runners/agents/financial planners had funneled money to players on its football team. Former Vol quarterback Tyler Bray and current defensive lineman Maurice Couch were named in the report. Couch has not played for UT since.
Days later it was also learned that a former Tennessee hostess had told the authors of a new book — “The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football — that she was paid $40 by Kiffin to spend time with high-profile recruit Bryce Brown. She also said that she and another hostess were paid $40 to travel from Knoxville to a high school football game in Duncan, South Carolina in order to woo prospects to the Vols. (Sidenote — $40 wouldn’t pay for gas, food and a hotel, so you can choose to believe that number or not.)
Then came Foster’s bombshell on Friday.
The NCAA typically has a four-year statute of limitations on allegations, but it can ignore such barriers if it believes there is a pattern of misbehavior. Clearly, there is a pattern of misbehavior in Knoxville. Some of it is small and all of it was done without the knowledge of the current staff and current AD Dave Hart, but it still looks bad on paper and that could lure the NCAA back to Knoxville.
That said, even if the NCAA does choose to dive back into the Tennessee program as a result of Foster’s comments (and the Yahoo! story and the book’s claims), the NFL star would likely have to cooperate with investigators, admit to receiving payments and then provide proof or names. In other words, it’s likely Foster would need to become an even bigger rat if the Volunteers are to receive further punishments.
So at this point, Vol fans — including the dolt of an “investor” who paid him — have to be concerned with just how large a rat Foster really is.