KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee coach Rick Barnes says he doesn’t have reason to be concerned about a Texas investigation into allegations of academic misconduct in its men’s basketball program.
Texas hired an outside investigator following a Chronicle of Higher Education report that mentioned potential allegations involving three former men’s basketball players dating back to 2006. Barnes had coached Texas the last 17 seasons before getting fired in March.
Texas officials have said the university “has no information that suggests” Barnes knew of or was involved in any academic improprieties. Texas athletic director Steve Patterson has said Barnes’ exit had “nothing to do with any academic issues.”
“If you read the article, from my point of view, there’s no legs to it,” Barnes told reporters Monday in his first public comments on the matter since the report came out. “I think Texas has said everything that needed to be said. I’m sure they’ll proceed with whatever they think they have to do there, but it was made clear that I had no involvement in it, which I knew. If I thought there was something, I would address (it). (Because of) the fact it has no legs, I’m not really concerned about it.”
In the report, a former academic counselor said a math instructor told him she saw former basketball player Martez Walker cheating on an exam, and that Walker was allowed to pass anyway. Walker has since transferred. The counselor also said he believed former Texas player P.J. Tucker received impermissible help with a paper while preparing for the NBA draft. Also in the report, a former academic mentor said he helped write papers for former player J’Covan Brown.
Barnes said he was confident nothing would come out of the report and cited Texas’ statement saying it had no information to suggest he was involved in any misconduct.
“I guess if I would say anything, it would be that it’s just disappointing why my picture was put there with it anyway,” Barnes said. “If I did make a statement, it would have been that I hate for, (with) everything that’s happened here at the University of Tennessee, for something like that to pop up. But from where I stand and where I sit and what I know and the people I’m close to back there, everyone says, ‘Hey, you know there’s nothing to it. There’s no legs to it, so why get involved?’ ”
Barnes took over as Tennessee’s coach just two days after getting fired at Texas, where he went 402-180 and reached the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons. The Volunteers hired him to replace Donnie Tyndall, who was fired after only one season because Tennessee officials decided the NCAA was likely to determine Tyndall had committed major violations while coaching Southern Mississippi from 2012-14.
When the article came out, Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart issued a statement in support of Barnes. Hart said Barnes “has a sterling reputation as a person of very high ethical standards at every institution he has represented, and we are excited to have him lead our men’s basketball program.”