Home Notebook: Tennessee avoids bowl ban; Northwestern scandal deepens

Notebook: Tennessee avoids bowl ban; Northwestern scandal deepens

Chris Graham
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Tennessee football sidesteps the long arm of the NCAA

You might have seen the news that Tennessee football avoided a postseason ban from the NCAA, which decided to fine the school $8 million and further punish Vols’ fans by making everybody pretend that they didn’t win those 11 games in 2019 and 2020 under Jeremy Pruitt.

The joke’s on the NCAA: Vols’ fans have already been doing everything they can to forget Jeremy Pruitt.

No postseason ban means Tennessee, which opens with Virginia on Labor Day weekend in Nashville, still has something to play for in 2023.

That’s bad news for Virginia fans, whose favorite team will be a prohibitive underdog down in Music City in a few weeks.

But it’s good news in general, not just for Tennessee, but college athletics in general.

The violations at the heart of the sanctions handed down this week occurred under Pruitt, who was fired in 2021, so the idea that guys playing years later should be the ones to pay the price doesn’t seem fair, though that’s the way the NCAA has traditionally handled these things.

Pruitt himself reportedly did what he could to push the NCAA to ease up on the current guys, which is admirable for an otherwise loathsome fellow.

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Attorney: Deepening scandal at Northwestern is a ‘civil rights issue’

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said his law firm and other lawyers have been investigating numerous reports of hazing involving the football, baseball, softball and volleyball programs at Northwestern, which has already moved to dismiss football coach Pat Fitzgerald and baseball coach Jim Foster.

Now we’re seeing the name of ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, the former athletics director at Northwestern, dragged into the story, as one of the co-defendants in one of the lawsuits filed by current and former Northwestern student-athletes.

The allegations center on what sounds like a pervasive culture of sexualized hazing in the athletics programs at the school, and a culture of silence that allowed the abuse to continue.

“It’s something as an athlete, we come in, we hear about it, we don’t know what it looks like,” said Lloyd Yates, a quarterback at Northwestern from 2015-2017. “It’s something where you say, That’s not going to happen to me. I’m going to fight back, I’m going to do something, I don’t play with that kind of stuff. But when it happens, it’s uncontrollable. You’re dominated by the culture.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].