Did Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton Force Early Enrollees To Go To Class?

A. Enslen ButlerContributor IJanuary 13, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Lane Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

One of the murky parts of the Lane Kiffin-to-USC fiasco concerns the early enrollees that were on the University of Tennessee campus Tuesday night.

Because UT-Knoxville began the 2010 Spring Semester Wednesday, it has been reported that former recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron told those Tennessee early enrollees not to attend class. The goal: It would make it easier for them to transfer to USC.

It has also been reported that Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton told the early enrollees to "go to class". ESPN.com reported that, "Recruits who have begun the new semester and continue to attend class would be eligible to participate in Tennessee's spring practice."

Here is my question: Were these young men forced to go to class by the school?

Because, according to one reading of the NCAA bylaws, attending the first day of class would mean that the student-athlete would be subject to NCAA transfer rules.

If Orgeron was guilty of bad behavior for getting the early enrollees to switch schools, would Hamilton be just as guilty if he forced those players to go to class? By forcing the players to class, it would benefit the university by making it more difficult for the student-athlete to transfer.

Here is the reading of the relevant section of the rule. You can go to the NCAA website and download a copy of the by-laws for free. (Emphasis in bold by the author)

14.5.2 Conditions Affecting Transfer Status. A transfer student is an individual who transfers from a collegiate institution after having met any one of the following conditions at that institution:

(a) The student was officially registered and enrolled in a minimum, full-time program of studies in any quarter or semester of an academic year, as certified by the registrar or admissions office, provided the student was present at the institution on the opening day of classes;

(b) The student attended a class or classes in any quarter or semester in which the student was enrolled in a minimum full-time program of studies, even if the enrollment was on a provisional basis and the student was later determined by the institution not to be admissible;

Mike Hamilton reportedly said that those players were UT-Knoxville students as of 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. So it would make it harder for those players to transfer.

To me, that is a very, VERY liberal interpretation of Part A of the rule. So if they were in Knox County on Wednesday, they are officially students and subject to the transfer rule? Or if they met with Hamilton on campus on Wednesday, they are automatically students because they were "present at the institution on the opening day of classes"?

Part B of the rule is very clear and is confirmed by an NCAA online brochure about transfers, Transfers 101. It says in one case study, "The transfer rules applied to Brady (the student in the case study) the minute he became a full-time student and went to class on the first day of the semester."

It is not known how many early enrollees went to class Wednesday. But this is the side of college football that I hate seeing.

So what do you think? How do you read the rule? Am I completely off base? Who was right or are both sides wrong? Let me know in the comments.