The NCAA is investigating Tennessee's recruiting practices, with a significant part of the probe centering on the use of recruiting hostesses, according to the New York Times.
Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton confirmed an investigation was under way. He declined to elaborate. "Typically, we do not comment on inquires that are in progress," he told the newspaper.
Although Lane Kiffin's program has been cited for at least six secondary violations, the school's use of student hostesses could result in serious violations.
Hostesses are considered representatives of the university, which would mean they could not recruit players off campus. But in one case, hostesses traveled nearly 200 miles to attend a high school game in South Carolina that featured three Tennessee recruits. According to Marcus Lattimore, a running back at James F. Byrnes High in Duncan, S.C., the hostesses brought signs. One read, "Come to Tennessee."
"I haven't seen no other schools do that," Lattimore told the Times. "It's crazy."
Lattimore added, "You don't want to go to a college where they ain't pretty."
Brandon Willis, one of Lattimore's teammates who has given a commitment to Tennessee, has already been interviewed by the NCAA, according to the player's father. Gary Willis told the Times that his son met the girls last summer at Tennessee's camp. The girls told his son then that they would attend one of his games.
Update: Tennessee's Hamilton issued a statement Wednesday afternoon: "We are concerned about the alleged activities of some members of the Orange Pride. Both university and NCAA guidelines are a part of the Orange Pride’s orientation and training. If those guidelines were violated, we will take appropriate action. Because of federal student privacy regulations, we can't comment further."
Although Hamilton's statement tries to shift the blame to students, North Gwinnett (Ga.) High coach Bob Sphire told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was clear where the investigation is centered: "This is all about Tennessee. It's not about the kids. They're not investigating the kids; they're investigating Tennessee."