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New Book Reveals That Then-Tennessee Coach Lane Kiffin Would Ask ‘Hostesses’ To Take Out Recruits


College sports is one of those things that everyone knows is seedy, yet when the stories actually rise to the surface you can’t help but be appalled. And also not surprised at all. Take the following stories, which will be in the new book by 60 Minutes’ Armen Keteyian and Sports Illustrated’s Jeff Benedict, “The System,” and come via Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports. You have the full story behind the now infamous “hostess” scandal that was going on during Lane Kiffin’s tenure at Tennessee. There’s a breakdown of the University of Missouri’s student-athlete tutor program, which a local prosecutor describes as a “sexually charged environment.” All good, though. Nothing to worry about here. The NCAA has its stuff together and is going after the real problem causers like Johnny Manziel. Yay amateurism. From Yahoo! Sports:

Also speaking publicly for the first time is Lacey Pearl Earps – the infamous Tennessee recruiting hostess dubbed “The Closer” by Volunteer coaches for her ability to connect with top high school players. Earps details the bizarre system of the hostess business, where pretty, personable, well-trained college women are used as bait to lure top talent. Even if they don’t have physical relationships with high school players (and some certainly do), they are encouraged to engage in at least pseudo romantic relationships through social media, text and Skype for months on end. All of this comes with the approval and encouragement of athletic department officials and highly paid coaches. “Our job was to flirt with them,” Earps said. At one point, Bryce Brown, a running back from Kansas and the No. 1 recruit in America, told then-Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin he wanted to make a last-minute unofficial visit to Knoxville. Kiffin called Earps, who had hosted Brown during a previous visit and was in near constant contact with him. “I asked [Brown] what he wanted to do,” Earps said Kiffin told her. “[Brown] said, ‘Coach, all I want to do is hang out with Lacey.’ So will you take him out?” When she agreed, Kiffin gave her $40 for expenses. She hung out with him for a couple days and he signed with the Vols.  The next fall, according to Earps, Kiffin strongly encouraged her and another hostess to make what turned out to be an NCAA-illegal visit to a high school football game in Duncan, S.C. It was there that the dolled-up UT coeds held a sign for some potential recruits, had their photo snapped and became the center of a New York Times’ expose and an NCAA investigation. While Earps said she was hung out to dry by the university and coaching staff when the scandal broke, it was Kiffin who applauded the idea of traveling 200 miles to the high school game while his brother-in-law, also an assistant coach, provided $40 in gas money for the trip. She says it was a common deal, where the hostesses were encouraged to do anything to draw in players, even obvious NCAA violations. Earps insists she never had a physical relationship with a recruit, but acknowledges purposefully leading the players on. “These are high school boys,” she said. “They have one thing on their mind.” “From the athletic department’s perspective, it didn’t matter how the recruit got there,” she said. “Whatever it took. A lot of people turned a blind eye. That was very unsettling to me.” The entire chapter is unbecoming of a university. … Even worse is the story of the University of Missouri student-athlete tutoring culture, which is paramount in keeping players eligible for competition. “The System” lays out the profoundly bad idea of college girls being paired with football and basketball players – who are often academically disinterested and physically exhausted – for apparently lightly supervised one-on-one work. The result: an environment of sexually provocative conversations; rampant hook-ups; tutors just doing the athletes’ schoolwork themselves; and, most terribly, in the case of star running back Derrick Washington, a 2010 sexual assault of his clean-cut, serious-minded tutor that sent him to prison. The victim in that case spoke publicly for the first time to the authors and revealed her horrifying ordeal while blowing up the entire system. Washington, his parents and other key witnesses also spoke candidly about what went wrong at Mizzou. As local prosecutor Andrea Hayes, who investigated the tutoring program, said, “Too many tutors were having sex with the athletes, and really filthy conversations were going on between players and girls. It was a sexually charged environment. It was a joke – the whole tutorial situation.”