Ed Orgeron Called Tennessee Recruits, Offered USC Scholarships
During his first press conference as the head coach at USC, Lane Kiffin denied that Ed Orgeron, who also left UT for USC, initiated phone calls to players who had been recruited to Tennessee.
“I don’t know that that’s accurate. . . . I don’t believe that has happened,” Kiffin said Wednesday evening, just after he was introduced as USC’s new head football coach. “I’ve told [Tennessee Athletic Director] Mike Hamilton I will not recruit the players that go there unless they call me.”
But it comes as no shock that Orgeron did in fact place calls to Tennessee recruits.
Off to the side a few minutes after Kiffin finished speaking, Orgeron, after much prodding, told reporters that he had indeed initiated phone calls to some of the 26 Tennessee recruits he and Kiffin had received commitments from. “Yes, I did call recruits to clear up any questions they had,” Orgeron said without identifying the players and declining to answer how many he reached. “In my knowledge, I followed the rules correctly.”
There are also reports that Orgeron encouraged recruits who had signed up for spring semester courses at UT not to attend classes this week.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said rules stipulate that “an institution cannot contact a student-athlete enrolled at another institution without permission from the current school. A currently enrolled student-athlete who transfers must sit out a year before becoming eligible to compete. An enrolled student-athlete is one who is officially registered and enrolled in a minimum, full-time program of studies in any quarter or semester of an academic year, as certified by the registrar or admissions office, provided the student was present at the institution on the opening day of classes.”
Osburn stated that the NCAA may work with USC and the University of Tennessee to gather “relevant fact and data” regarding Orgeron’s contact with Tennessee recruits.
When asked if he advised Tennessee recruits to not attend classes Wednesday so they wouldn’t face transfer rules, Orgeron said, “I’m not going to get into that”.
Jeff Bray said his son, former Kingsburg (Calif.) High quarterback Tyler Bray, was in a room Tuesday when Orgeron made his pitch to a group of players via speaker phone.
“He didn’t think it was very cool,” Jeff Bray said of his son’s reaction to the presentation. “You’re in the middle of all this turmoil and they’re trying to pull players. . . . My understanding was a lot of [the players] got very angry and voiced their anger on the phone.”
Mike Garrett, USC’s athletic director, said he hadn’t explored Orgeron’s contact with Tennessee recruits and wasn’t comfortable responding to questions about how he would handle the matter.
View Kiffin’s press conference video below: