Tennessee In Hot Water Again, But This Time Over A Music VideoPosted by nvr1983 on January 24th, 2011
A little over two years ago we mentioned the budding music career of Renaldo Woolridge before he had even played a game for Tennessee. We noted that his constant references to his involvement with the basketball team appeared to be a NCAA violation and we were met with criticism from many Tennessee fans who felt that it was just an innocent hobby and nothing bad would happen from it.
Well, it appears that Swiperboy aka Baller Vol aka The Answer aka Woolridge [Ed Note: Is this inspired by Puff Daddy aka Diddy aka P. Diddy aka Sean Combs?] has caught the attention of the media and the NCAA again with his music. Earlier today it was first reported that Woolridge had filmed a music video on Saturday at a local bar without having to pay for using the area. That act could be construed as a NCAA violation (impermissible benefit granted due to one’s status as an athlete) that would not be unlike what happened to Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly a little over a month ago for getting discounted clothing. Later in the day, however, Tennessee responded with a statement that essentially cleared Woolridge and the program of any wrongdoing stating that the area was used for free by other student groups, no filming had taken place, and the area had not been blocked off to the public. Case closed, right? As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.”
Just a few hours after the statement by Tennessee that attempted to clear Woolridge and the program of any wrongdoing, the same local newspaper that first reported the potential violation came back with another report that appears to directly contradict what the school stated. According to the report, the bar’s owner confirmed that Woolridge had indeed spent an hour shooting a music video there (the university said the same person had told them Woolridge was just scouting a potential location) and several eyewitnesses at the bar including two employees confirmed that Woolridge was in an area blocked off to the public (the university: the area was open to the public) and that they were shooting a music video (the university: they had only taken photos to scout the location). According to Raed “Ryan” Zekry, the bar owner, the area “was given to [Woolridge] by the New Amsterdam for free because we do support him and UT sports in general,” and that Woolridge “shot the video to support UT.”
The reports that Woolridge was taping the music video and that the area was blocked off to the public (both statements directly contradict Tennessee’s report on the incident) are strong pieces of evidence disputing the athletic department’s one-day investigation into the matter and strongly suggest that this was in fact an NCAA violation, not to mention that it was to “support UT sports.” On the surface, the original incident (Woolridge benefiting because he was an athlete) would be relatively minor and would probably result in punishment along the lines of what K-State’s Pullen and Kelly got (probably anywhere from three to nine games). A bigger issue arises for the Tennessee athletic program, though. As you may remember, UT has already had some issues with lying to the NCAA (see Pearl, Bruce) and has its three major athletic programs — basketball, football, and baseball — currently under investigation by the NCAA, and about which the athletic department received a letter of inquiry in October. You see, the school expects to receive the NCAA’s findings on those matters shortly. The timing of this situation and Tennessee’s response (and any alleged further obfuscation of the truth) could not be possibly worse for the program at a moment when the NCAA expects them to be on their best behavior. Don’t be surprised if the NCAA delays its decision a little longer to factor in this latest incident and a possible cover-up before it hands down its recommendations and punishment for a program that can’t seem to keep itself out of trouble.