Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer says he wasn’t aware of Houston Texans running back Arian Foster ever receiving money during his college career.
”As the head coach at Tennessee for 17 years, I took great pride in having a program that was NCAA compliant, as did our staff and administration,” Fulmer said in a statement released to the Associated Press on Sunday. ”If we knew of a violation, big or small, we reported it.”
Foster, now a running back with the Houston Texans, says in an upcoming documentary he ”was getting money on the side” during his senior year at Tennessee. Fulmer coached Foster at Tennessee from 2005-08.
Sports Illustrated first reported Foster’s comments in the EPIX documentary ”Schooled: The Price of College Sports.” Foster expanded on his comments Friday and said the money he received didn’t come from a coach.
”Side people always offer you money all the time, just random people usually. `Can I take care of you?’ ” Foster said Friday. ”It happens all the time. When you’re at college and your family doesn’t make a lot of money, it’s hard to make ends meet. … Toward the end of the month, you run out every month. It’s a problem all across America. It’s just when you play top-tier Division I football, there’s people that are willing to help you out. I got helped out.”
Andrew Muscato, a producer of the documentary, said Foster didn’t specify during the four-hour interview that took place in February how much money he received or who paid him.
Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement released by the university Friday that, ”We can’t speak to something that allegedly happened a long time ago.”
Hart said what the university can ”say is that the values and priorities of our athletic department and football program are aligned, and the constant education of our student-athletes regarding the rules and the consequences of their choices is of the highest priority.”
The Foster report came one week after Yahoo Sports reported that a runner for agents provided illegal benefits to Tennessee defensive lineman Maurice Couch and former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray as well as former Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, former Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and former Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis. Couch has been ruled ineligible while the school investigates those allegations.
Tennessee is on probation through Aug. 23, 2015, for previous violations.
Generally, the NCAA has a four-year statute of limitations on allegations. But if the NCAA determines there are extenuating circumstances in this case such as a pattern of behavior, it could subject Tennessee to another investigation and potentially more penalties.