‘Undue influence’ alleged in discipline of UT student athletes

Former University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor Tim Rogers says the athletics department inappropriately pressured officials in charge of campus discipline and exerted undue influence that placed students and institutional integrity in “peril,” reports The Tennessean.

The former vice chancellor for student life confirmed to The Tennessean that he authored documents that outlined his concerns about pressure from athletics department administrators regarding how athletes should be disciplined for misconduct ranging from minor infractions to sexual assaults.

Rogers took his concerns to University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek in the spring of 2013 shortly before Rogers’ abrupt retirement, which he attributed to an “intolerable situation.” In a meeting with DiPietro, Rogers blamed Cheek for enabling athletics to wield undue influence over the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. Those concerns are enumerated in the documents obtained by The Tennessean.

At issue was whether Rogers’ staff was pressured to be more lenient in the discipline imposed on student-athletes. Cheek told The Tennessean that by 2013 he had heard from several stakeholders, including the athletics department, that Rogers’ staff was too strict in how it disciplined athletes and non-athletes.

The revelation of Rogers’ 2013 documents alleging interference by the UT athletics department on student discipline comes amid growing scrutiny of the university after several misconduct allegations against football players. At least five players on the 2014 roster have been accused of sexual assault.

…DiPietro told The Tennessean he took Rogers’ allegations seriously. He said he met individually with Cheek several times. He also had one meeting with both Cheek and Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director Dave Hart to discuss Rogers’ concerns. Both Cheek and Hart assured DiPietro there was no undue influence by athletics on cases involving student-athletes.