When the recruiting dead period eventually ends, Tennessee Vols running backs coach Jay Graham won’t be among the assistants hitting the road.
That’s because Graham was hit with a six-month show-cause penalty by the NCAA (which was announced on Thursday).
The show-cause penalty is related to recruiting violations that took place at Texas A&M in 2018 (Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher was also hit with a penalty).
Fisher and Graham had impermissible recruiting contact with a player at his high school (the contact happened before the player completed his junior year of high school).
On Thursday, the Vols released a statement voicing their support for Graham.
During the process of hiring Coach Jay Graham, we were made aware of the circumstances at his previous institution, and we vetted it thoroughly in accordance with NCAA and SEC bylaws. We established and maintain extremely high confidence in Coach Graham’s commitment to compliance and are proud to have him on our staff.
The NCAA didn’t actually name Graham in their release. They simply referred to “an assistant coach”.
Texas A&M, however, revealed in a press release that Graham was the assistant involved.
It’s not a big deal, as the news would’ve likely made its way to the media eventually.
But it’s obvious the Aggies weren’t going to do Tennessee any favors by keeping Graham’s name out of the numerous stories that were written about the ordeal on Thursday.
One of the most fun things about the SEC is the gamesmanship that happens year-round. And this is another example of it.
By the way, Tennessee won’t be able to replace Graham on the recruiting trail with an off-the-field assistant. The Vols will simply be down a coach for the fall recruiting period.
It’s not the worst penalty that could happen to a program, but it will certainly hurt Tennessee as they try to hold on to a top-five recruiting class this fall.
Featured image via Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports