Kiffin escapes punishment from NCAA

Any lasting ties between USC coach Lane Kiffin and the University of Tennessee are now gone.

Off the hook · USC coach Lane Kiffin was cleared of committing any major violations, which included impermissible recruiting activities and a failure to monitor, while serving as Tennessee’s coach in 2009. The investigation took less than six months. - Carlo Acenas | Daily Trojan

The NCAA has notified USC that coach Lane Kiffin did not commit any major violations during his 14-month stint as coach at the University of Tennessee, the school announced Wednesday.

Kiffin had previously received a notice of allegations from the NCAA on Feb. 23, which included a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance, a failure to monitor and impermissible recruiting activities — the former two being major infractions.

“I’m very grateful to the NCAA, the Committee on Infractions and its chairman Dennis Thomas for a very fair and thorough process,” Kiffin said in a statement. “I’m also very grateful that we were able to accurately and fairly present the facts in our case and that no action was taken against us. I’m pleased that the NCAA based its decision on the facts and not on perception.”

Thomas, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference commissioner, chaired the committee and ultimately found the evidence was “insufficient” to support any of the findings.

Though he was not disciplined following the two-year investigation, the COI did find the Tennessee football program, under Kiffin, had committed 12 secondary violations in 10 months, all of which pertained to recruiting.

“The committee was troubled by the number and nature of the secondary infractions by the football coaching staff during its one-year tenure at the institution,” the report said.

Kiffin, who served as coach of the Volunteers from November 2008 to January 2010, was nonetheless admonished by the committee.

“Some of the violations received nationwide publicity and brought the football program into public controversy,” the report read. “This is not a record of which to be proud.”

Former Tennessee men’s basketball coach, who was also cited by the NCAA, did, however, receive a three-year show-cause penalty, prohibiting him from recruiting for three years and forcing schools to “show cause” if they wish to hire him.

Kiffin and USC Athletic Director Pat Haden appeared at an NCAA hearing for the case in Indianapolis on June 11, sitting before the infractions committee for more than four hours.

“We obviously were pleased to learn about the NCAA’s ruling today regarding Lane Kiffin,” Haden said in a statement. “I appeared at Lane’s NCAA hearing, and I believe the NCAA’s decision is fair and based on the facts presented.”

The initial charges stemmed from impermissible telephone contact Kiffin and his staff made in 2010 with five recruits between Jan. 3 and Jan. 9 — a total of 16 calls spanning 47 minutes, according to a 26-page document released by Tennessee in late February.

Kiffin also allowed a recruiting intern, Steve Rubio, to accompany him on a recruiting trip to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., despite forewarning from the school’s department of football operations.

On that trip, Rubio allegedly made “in-person, off-campus contact with high school administrators,” violating NCAA rules as an intern and a non-authorized off-campus recruiter.

“I’m also very grateful that the Tennessee football program was cleared of any wrongdoing,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin is not expected to be subject to any further discipline.

“I’m glad this is behind us now and I know Lane feels the same way,” Haden said. “From the time he arrived at USC, Lane Kiffin has been extremely compliant regarding NCAA rules and I feel confident that he will continue to be so.”

Kiffin expressed similar sentiments.

“As I have said before, we always have been committed to following NCAA rules and bylaws both at Tennessee and now at USC, and we always will be,” Kiffin said. “Now that this has reached its conclusion, I am looking forward to continuing to prepare our team for the upcoming season.”

USC, which finished 8-5 in Kiffin’s first season at the school, begins its season on Sept. 3 against Minnesota.