Photo Catches Lady Vols Off-Guard

DAN FLESER,

KNOXVILLE NEWS-SENTINEL

Tennessee is reporting a secondary violation regarding a newspaper photo of women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt and assistant coach Dean Lockwood with recruit Meighan Simmons.

Todd Dooley, UT’s assistant athletic director for compliance and operations, said Wednesday that the school will submit the report to the SEC office, which will forward it to the NCAA.

“That’s basically saying it’s our fault and it doesn’t affect the eligibility of the prospect,” he said.

Dooley said that Summitt and Lockwood will be receiving a “letter of caution” which will advise them “if you encounter an event like this in the future, it’s in your best interest to find a more private setting,” Dooley said.

Simmons, a 5-foot-9 guard from Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas, committed to Tennessee last Saturday and intends to sign a letter of intent with the Lady Vols next month.

Dooley said that he began asking questions and preparing the report after the photo first appeared in the San Antonio Express-News last month. It was taken while the UT coaches visited Simmons at her high school. The photo violates NCAA guidelines prohibiting publicizing contact with a prospect. The photo later ran in Sunday’s editions of the News Sentinel.

Summitt was aware of the rule and told Dooley that she was unaware of the newspaper photographer’s presence. The newspaper told Dooley that the photographer, Helen L. Montoya, had announced her presence.

“There wasn’t premeditated anything,” Summitt said. “We go in there and

we were the rock stars.”

Summitt said that she’s accustomed to attracting attention, especially after winning her 1,000th career game last season. But she said that the scene at Steele “was unlike anything of late.”

“It was a gym full of people,” she said. “Everyone wanted a picture or an autograph.”

LSU coach Van Chancellor and his assistant coaches also were visiting the school that day.

“From what I can gather, the school district notified the media that they were coming,” Dooley said.

Dooley’s advice to the coaches reiterates the content of the letter they will receive.

“Make sure you account for everyone who’s there,” Dooley said. “That’s the only advice I can give them. They’re allowed to go into the high school and they’re going to go.”

Said Summitt: “It’s something that will keep us all on our toes.”

Dooley cannot discuss a particular recruit but said such circumstances don’t impact a prospect’s intentions either.