The NCAA extended Tennessee’s probation by two years as part of additional penalties handed down Friday following the ruling that former football assistant coach Willie Mack Garza provided impermissible travel and lodging to a former prospect.
Penalties include a public reprimand and censure plus a reduction in official visits, evaluation days and complimentary tickets to recruits on unofficial visits. This extends a probationary period that started in August 2011 and now runs through Aug. 23, 2015.
Garza, who worked at Tennessee on former coach Lane Kiffin’s staff, received a three-year show-cause order. The show-cause penalty means that any school that hires him must prove to the NCAA that it is rules compliant. Garza resigned as USC’s secondary coach two days before the Trojans started their 2011 season.
The NCAA ruled Garza reimbursed talent scout Will Lyles for plane tickets and hotel expenses associated with an unofficial visit made by Lache Seastrunk and his mother in the summer of 2009. The visit occurred outside the permissible time period for prospects to make expense-paid visits. The NCAA classified Lyles as a booster because he arranged the trip.
Seastrunk, a running back, eventually signed with Oregon and now plays for Baylor.
“We will finally close the chapter on the prior actions of members of a previous coaching staff,” Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement.
Coming off its first loss of the season, No. 4 Alabama (9-1) should get a bit of a breather today against FCS foe Western Carolina (1-9).
Given the obvious mismatch, this might be the fourth most important game of the day for the Crimson Tide, who fell 29-24 to No. 9 Texas A&M last weekend.
Later, No. 1 Oregon faces No. 14 Stanford, No. 2 Kansas State visits Baylor and No. 3 Notre Dame meets Wake Forest.
Two of those unbeaten teams will likely have to lose for Alabama to play for a third national title in four years on Jan. 13 in Miami.
“We’re just focused on now and what we have ahead, not on Miami,” Tide tailback Eddie Lacy said. “If we take care of everything, Miami will take care of itself.”
Wes Cobb scored twice on runs and Cody Getz rushed for 125 yards as Air Force beat Hawaii, 21-7, at home to become bowl eligible.
The Falcons (6-5 overall, 5-2 Mountain West) are headed to a postseason game for the sixth season in a row under coach Troy Calhoun.
Air Force didn’t attempt a pass all night, relying on a ground game that’s ranked second in the country.
Jeremy Higgins made his first start for Hawaii and directed a scoring drive to open the game. But the Warriors (1-9, 0-7) struggled after that.