Unusual but not unprecedented

Tennessee suspended four players on Wednesday for a violation of team rules pertaining to academics.

While such disciplinary action was unusual, it wasn’t unprecedented.

Four Lady Vols were disciplined to start the 2000-01 season. The punishment was staggered across one exhibition game and three regular-season games. Gwen Jackson sat out the exhibition, Michelle Snow missed the season opener and Shalon Pillow missed the first three regular-season games all for violation of team policy.

Someone in arena dining was winking and nodding these three through the check-out line. Apparently some benefited more than others.

Semeka Randall, meanwhile, already was on the books for missing class the previous season. Her punishment was missing a two-game trip to Maui. Ouch.

“Everyone knows team policy,” then-head coach Pat Summitt said. “Everyone knows the rules. If they don’t abide by them, they’ll sit.”

There was an echo in head coach Holly Warlick’s explanation last Wednesday of her disciplinary action.

There’s another likely correlation as well. Like before, the latest punishment reflects a firm hand but not necessarily an eagle eye.

Assistant coach Dean Lockwood compared last week’s discipline to getting caught speeding.

“I’ve probably speeded more times than I’ve been caught,” he said during an interview on the News Sentinel’s Sports Page radio show.

Lockwood described the system in place in the following manner: “It’s one of those things. We’re not saying it’s 100 percent fail-proof but we do check.”

Based on my 26 years of covering this program, that assessment isn’t unprecedented either.