Knoxville — The Tennessee football program recently received its NCAA notice of allegations, finally shedding light on what went on during the previous regime. For the current staff under Josh Heupel, they’re ready to move on to competing for championships in Knoxville.
It was just recently that the NCAA released the infractions that the former staff were have alleged to have been involved in, including 18 Level-1 violations.
The staff has tried to get in front of any penalties that might come their way over the next year or so.
One way the Vols have been able to punish themselves internally has been through recruiting. There were a number of months last season where the staff decided to not host any official visitors, along with keeping the scholarship number below the 85 count.
Heupel made it clear that ‘relieved’ might not be the best way to define the program receiving the notice when asked about the situation.
“I don’t know if relieved is the word, there’s been so much dialogue and communication between our administration and the NCAA, but also just to us and where we’re at,” he said. “Things that hit publicly are things we couldn’t talk about, we knew that was coming. We’ve been very transparent and open with our current roster, our recruits, that’s why I think we positioned ourselves extremely well.“
“You know you look at some of the things that have come out of that, the NCAA talking about us being a model moving forward for universities when they’re dealing with something,” Heupel continued. “It’s why from the very beginning I’ve said it’s just a speed bump for this program.”
Having taken those steps to mitigate further punishment, the Vols coach said it came down to the working relationship between the Chancellor, Athletic Director and football staff.
“Between our administration, from Donde [Plowman] all the way down to Danny [White] and what we’re doing on the football side of it, I think we’ve positioned ourselves extremely well to swallow things up early and be able to compete for championships here moving forward.”
One of the bigger issues over the last year has been how this has been used by other teams in recruiting, using the potential sanctions against the Vols.
But since Day 1, Heupel has been clear with both recruiting classes on the direction of the program, even if he couldn’t fully tell them ways to mitigate further damage. Once the school received the Notice of Allegations, the staff was able to make things clearer for future and current players.
“For us, we’ve been very transparent with the two recruiting classes we’ve been involved with since the staff has gotten here. One that’s signed and one that hasn’t, I think because of that, we’ve earned great trust from them. We’ve been able to talk openly about the things we were doing inside of our program that we were taking In Year 1.
“Once the notice of allegations came out, we were able to have a zoom call with all of them and be able to speak more directly about the things we’re doing,” Heupel continued. “This recruiting class really hasn’t felt the things we are doing internally, so they can understand the things that will happen in the future won’t have an impact on how they’re being recruited, there experience as a student-athlete on campus and what they’ll be able to compete for in the future.”
This process will likely drag for months. As we’ve seen over the past year, Heupel and his staff have done everything they can to put the Vols in the right position moving forward.
We’ll see if it ends up paying off.