UT fires Donnie Tyndall for conduct connected to NCAA investigation of Southern Miss

The University of Tennessee is looking for a men’s basketball coach. Again.

Athletics director Dave Hart fired Donnie Tyndall on Friday because of Tyndall’s connection to NCAA violations committed during his two seasons at Southern Miss. Tyndall went 16-16 in his one season with the Volunteers.

From The Associated Press:

In his termination letter Friday, Hart said Tyndall acknowledged deleting emails that could have been relevant to the investigation. The Tennessee AD said it's highly likely the NCAA will determine Tyndall failed to cooperate and that he failed to disclose "material information concerning violations of NCAA rules" during Tennessee's hiring process.

The termination letter acknowledges Tyndall’s the right to a post-termination hearing. If he so chooses, he has until April 15 to submit a written request for a hearing. He has until March 31 to return all university property and return his courtesy car.

UT hired Tyndall on April 22, 2014 and gave him a six-year, $1.6 million contract. Because he was fired with cause, the university is exempt from the $3 million buyout.

Mar 27, 2015 11:06 AM

UT offensive lineman removed from 'football activities' following arrest

University of Tennessee tackle Coleman Thomas was removed from all football activities Thursday after he was arrested for allegedly stealing an Xbox and three video games from a fellow student.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the sophomore from Max Meadows, Va. was charged Wednesday and released a short time later on a $2,000 bond.

Coach Butch Jones was not scheduled to meet with the media Thursday and no statement was issued on his behalf.

From the News Sentinel:

According to an arrest report, the victim reported that on March 13 between 10:55 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., someone entered his room at Reese Hall on the University of Tennessee's campus and stole his Xbox and three games — Call of Duty Warfare, NBA2K15 and NHL 15.

Authorities discovered that the items had been sold later the same day to the Game Stop store at 6731 Clinton Highway. The cost to reimburse Game Stop was $176 according to the arrest report.

The stolen items were valued at $640 according to the report.

Thomas, 6-foot-6, 308 pounds, played 11 games last season as a true freshman with five starts at right tackle. He missed two contests with an ankle injury.

Campus Insiders named him an honorable mention Freshman All-American.

(Photo: UTsports.com)

Mar 26, 2015 9:33 PM

Tyndall has second interview with NCAA investigators regarding Southern Miss case

University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Donnue Tyndall recently met for a second time with NCAA investigators looking into potential violations during Tyndall’s two-year tenure at Southern Miss.

That interview took place March 16, according to a Yahoo.com report, which said Tyndall’s contract with UT allows the school to fire him for a major violation at another institution.

Southern Miss self-imposed a 2015 postseason ban “based on information gathered during the review process” of the investigation in January.

Tyndall’s initial interview with NCAA investigators was in November.

“All I can say is I've cooperated 100 percent and if I need to, I will continue to do that," Tyndall told The Associated Press in January. "That's all I can say on that matter."

Yahoo’s report said it was unclear whether the second meeting marked the end of the NCAA investigation or whether it was one of the latest steps in the process.

Mar 26, 2015 12:20 PM

Injuries force Tennessee to adopt two-tiered approach to spring football

A shortage of healthy players has prompted Butch Jones and his staff to produce multiple schedules for spring football at the University of Tennessee.

“We'll actually have two practice formats,” Jones said Monday, a day before the Volunteers begin spring workouts. “Have never done this but again have never had the inordinate amount of injuries that we have this spring.”

There are nine players who will miss all of spring football because of health issues and four others who will be limited to some degree, at least at the start. No position will be affected more than the defensive line, where only five players are truly healthy.

The rundown of current injury issues:

Will miss all of spring football: Defensive end Derek Barnett, wide receiver Jason Croom, tight end Alex Ellis, offensive lineman Marcus Jackson, defensive lineman Jakob Johnson, linebacker Darrin Kirkland, linebacker Curt Maggitt, defensive lineman Danny O’Brien and defensive linemen Kyle Phillips.

Will be evaluated for possible return: Linebacker Dillon Bates and wide receiver Marquez North.

Limited to non-contact drills: Running back Jalen Hurd.

Limited reps: Offensive lineman Chance Hall.

Jones and his staff have adopted a divide-and-conquer approach, which will put healthy players on one schedule and the injured players on another.

“On practice days of Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, our injured players will just lift and basically go through an off day,” Jones said. “The days that are off days with film and lifting for our [healthy] players that are going through spring football, (the injured players) will do walk-throughs and different things to try to simulate the mental repetitions, the mental effort, the mental intensity in the physical reps that they're allowed to do.

“… It's going to be a great challenge in how we structure practice. However, it's also exciting because it gives other individuals great opportunities to really prove their football identity, and to really continue to progress and get better.”

(Photo: Getty Images)

Mar 23, 2015 1:12 PM

UT announces home-and-home football series with Pitt

Call it the Johnny Majors series.

The University of Tennessee announced a future home-and-home football series with the University of Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

The Volunteers will host Pitt on Sept. 11, 2021 and play at Pittsburgh on Sept. 10, 2022.

As it stands right now, that return contest will be the first game ever in Pennsylvania for UT’s football program. The program has played in 25 of the 50 United States.

There are plenty of non-conference openings to be filled between then and now, though. The only other contest scheduled for 2019 through 2022 is Sept. 7, 2019 against Georgia State.

Majors, of course, was head coach of both Tennessee and Pittsburgh. The 1956 Heisman Trophy runner-up was 45-45-1 in two stints at Pitt (1973-76 and 1993-96), the first of which included the 1976 national championship. At Tennessee (1977-92) he was 116-62-8.

Mar 18, 2015 9:11 PM

SEC Tournament: Timeouts were a time of change in Vanderbilt-Tennessee contest

Media timeouts occur roughly every four minutes in a college basketball game, which divides each half into five segments.

Or in the case of Tennessee’s victory over Vanderbilt in the second round of the SEC men’s basketball tournament Thursday, they often came once the Volunteers outscored the Commodores by nine points.

The teams traded runs throughout the second half and each one started and ended with a media timeout, right up until the last one, that is.

If form held, it would have been the Commodores’ turn to pull away once again but that didn’t happen. Following the final media timeout, the Volunteers scored 11 of the final 13 points to cap a 20-2 run that carried them to a shocking 67-61 victory at Bridgestone Arena. It was the third of the five second-half segments in which they outscored Vanderbilt by nine.

“I thought (this) certainly was a game of runs and our guys were very resilient,” UT coach Donnie Tyndall said. “Their team was tough as well and we were fortunate to end the game the right way, mostly because we were able to finally get some stops and get out in the open floor and convert in transition.”

A look at the four second-half media timeouts and how the game changed with each one:

Timeout 1 (15:46 to play): Vanderbilt led by six at halftime and doubled that advantage less than two minutes into the second half, which prompted Tennessee to burn an early timeout. It didn’t help much and when the first scheduled timeout occurred the Commodores were comfortably in front. Vanderbilt 47, Tennessee 36.

Timeout 2 (11:46 to play): Josh Richardson (22 points, 3 steals) scored seven points in a span of 3:01 and Tennessee held Vanderbilt scoreless for the entire segment. Luke Kornet (4 assists, tied a career-high) committed turnovers on consecutive possessions that led directly to four UT points and Damian Jones (18 points, 15 rebounds) missed a layup. Vanderbilt 47, Tennessee 45.

Timeout 3 (7:01 to play): Coming out of the timeout the Commodores worked the shot clock and got a 3-point basket by Wade Baldwin (16 points, 5 assists) that reversed the momentum. Jones, a dominant player most of the way, took control again with six points and a Richardson jumper was the only thing that kept the Volunteers from being blanked in that stretch. Vanderbilt 59, Tennessee 47.

Timeout 4 (3:49 to play): Once again, Tennessee outscored Vanderbilt 9-0 between media timeouts. Robert Hubbs (16 points) made a 3-pointer with 6:20 to play that started the rally and Kevin Punter followed with one of his own less than a minute later as the Volunteers quickly cut a 12-point deficit in half. Then came one by Derek Reese that made it a one-possession game with 4:33 to go. UT was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers in that segment, 4-for-21 the rest of the night. Vanderbilt 59, Tennessee 56.

At that point there was every reason to expect Vanderbilt would come out of the timeout, score a couple quick baskets and ease its way to the finish but it didn’t happen.

From that point, The Volunteers once again outscored the Commodores by nine points. The only difference was that in this case it was 11-2 instead of 9-0. UT held Vanderbilt scoreless for the final 3:07 and went ahead to stay when another Hubbs 3-pointer, with 2:13 remaining, broke a 61-61 tie.

“Last seven minutes, we thought we had the game where we wanted it and had some really good, open looks and missed,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “… We just allowed them to become the aggressor there at the end, the last five or six minutes, and that was our undoing.”


Wednesday’s results

Game 1: Auburn 74, Mississippi State 68
Game 2: South Carolina 63, Missouri 54

Thursday’s games

Game 3: Florida 69, Alabama 61
Game 4: Auburn 66, Texas A&M 59
Game 5: Tennessee 67, Vanderbilt 61
Game 6: South Carolina 60, Ole Miss 58

Friday’s games

Game 7: No. 1 Kentucky (31-0, 18-0) vs. Florida, noon (SEC Network)
Game 8: No. 4 LSU (22-9, 11-7) vs. Auburn, 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 9: No. 2 Arkansas (24-7, 13-5) vs. Tennessee, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 10: No. 3 Georgia (20-10, 11-7) vs. South Carolina, 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Mar 12, 2015 10:58 PM

New UT offensive coordinator to earn $500K annually

Mike DeBord, hired last month to be the University of Tennessee’s new offensive coordinator, will earn $500,000 per year over the next two seasons, according to the terms of his contract which includes incentives that could drive his earnings even higher.

The Knoxville News Sentinel obtained a copy of the contract Thursday through a freedom of information request and published some of the details.

DeBord’s base salary will be $200,000. The rest will be supplemental income from “broadcast, endorsement and/or consultation contracts.” The 59-year-old also will receive a car allowance and $5,000 per year for summer camp work.

From the News Sentinel Report:

If the Vols appear in a bowl game, DeBord receives a bonus equivalent to 8.33 percent of his annual contract. The bonus raises to 12 percent if that bowl is a New Year’s Six bowl and 16 percent if the Vols reach the College Football Playoff. He would receive an additional 4 percent bonus if the Vols win the SEC Championship Game and an additional 4 percent if they win the national championship.

Previous offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian earned $480,000 last season and all of Butch Jones’ assistants were expected to receive raises this year. So DeBord’s deal does not appear to change the basic salary structure of the staff in any way.

Mar 12, 2015 12:19 PM

Three factors that likely will decide today's Vanderbilt-Tennessee game at SEC Tournament

It’s Day Two of the Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament at Bridgestone Arena, and the most noteworthy matchup is the in-state affair between Vanderbilt at Tennessee (6 p.m., SEC Network).

The teams split the season series and both games were interesting. The first went to overtime and the second included about as perfect a second half from Vanderbilt as anyone could imagine.

Vanderbilt has been the better team down the stretch with five straight victories and wins in eight of its last 10. Tennessee, though, has been surprisingly competitive throughout the season with five losses by six points or fewer.

Three factors that likely will decide this game:

3-point shooting: Vanderbilt is the SEC’s best 3-point shooting team at 39.3 percent. Six SEC teams have attempted more 3-pointers than the Commodores but only Auburn has made more. Tennessee has the worst 3-point defense in the conference with opponents having made 37.8 percent of their attempts.

In the Volunteers’ victory they held Vanderbilt to 35.3 percent shooting on 3s. In the Commodores’ victory they made 57.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Secondary scoring: Josh Richardson is going to get his points for Tennessee. He scored at least 20 in each of the two regular-season meetings and averaged 23.5 points in those games. He is the only UT player among the SEC’s top 20 in scoring during conference play.

In UT’s victory at Vanderbilt on Feb. 11 three other Volunteers scored in double figures. In Vanderbilt’s victory on Feb. 26 only one other UT player scored 10 or more and Luke Kornet scored 21 points off the bench, which was more than all of the Volunteers’ reserves combined.

Late-game execution: Vanderbilt led both regular-season meetings with five minutes to play in regulation. It lost the first when it failed to make free throws and the defense allowed Robert Hubbs to get to the basket for a game-tying layup at the end of regulation. In the second, the Commodores continued a second-half surge all the way to the finish when they made their final 13 field goal attempts and then converted free throws in the final minute.

The average difference in the score of Vanderbilt’s 18 SEC games is 2.4 points. For Tennessee it’s three points. So there is no reason to think that this game will turn into a blowout either way.

Wednesday’s results

Game 1: Auburn 74, Mississippi State 68
Game 2: South Carolina 63, Missouri 54

Thursday’s games

Game 3: No. 8 Florida (15-16, 8-10) vs. No. 9 Alabama (18-13, 8-10), noon (SEC Network)
Game 4: No. 5 Texas A&M (20-10, 11-7) vs. Auburn (13-19), 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 5: No. 7 Vanderbilt (19-12, 9-9) vs. No. 10 Tennessee (15-15, 7-11), 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 6: No. 6 Ole Miss (20-11, 11-7) vs. South Carolina (16-15), 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Friday’s games

Game 7: No. 1 Kentucky (31-0, 18-0) vs. Game 3 winner, noon (SEC Network)
Game 8: No. 4 LSU (22-9, 11-7) vs. Game 4 winner, 2:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 9: No. 2 Arkansas (24-7, 13-5) vs. Game 7 winner, 6 p.m. (SEC Network)
Game 10: No. 3 Georgia (20-10, 11-7) vs. Game 6 winner, 8:30 p.m. (SEC Network)

Mar 12, 2015 12:00 PM

Jones says training atmosphere not exactly music to Volunteers' ears

Butch Jones believes that hard work should be – that’s right – hard.

At an appearance Tuesday in Jackson, the University of Tennessee football coach explained one of the ways that he and his staff challenge their players during offseason workouts.

“When we’re working out we’re not playing music over the loudspeakers,” Jones said, according to The Jackson Sun. “We’re playing all the annoying sounds we can come up with – crying babies, breaking glass, you name it.

“Because it’s easy to do what you need to do when you hear what makes you do that thing even better. We need them to be ready to go when it’s not easy.”

Jones spoke at a fundraiser and said the focus in recent weeks has been to emphasize continued improvement even after a bowl appearance and victory last season.

“We’ve been asking the guys to envision a better ‘you,’” Jones said. “What does that better you look like? Once everyone figures out what a better them looks like and begins working toward it, this team will become a better team.”

It is not going to be easy.

(Photo: Getty Images)


Mar 11, 2015 10:57 PM

Wharton settles on where to play remainder of college football career

Vic Wharton was one of a handful of in-state products who helped distinguish the University of Tennessee’s 2014 football signing class.

Now the wide receiver out of Independence High School has decided to go about as far from home as possible.

Wharton announced on his Twitter page Saturday that he planned to transfer to the University of California.

“Excited to announce that I will be attending the University of California next year!” he wrote. “Thankful for the memories made at Tennessee.”

Under NCAA transfer rules, he must sit out the 2015 season. After that, he will have three remaining seasons of eligibility.

Wharton played in nine games as a true freshman with starts against Vanderbilt and in the TaxSlayer Bowl against Iowa. He caught five passes for 64 yards and his lone touchdown came on a 49-yard reception in the bowl game.

Mar 9, 2015 2:30 AM