Rick Barnes is in a new spot, entering his first season with Tennessee after spending the previous 17 with Texas.
But at his old spot, some troubling smoke remains in the aftermath of his departure. There are internal and external investigations into possible academic mischief, which dates back to 2006. A report from the Chronicle of Higher Education names three of Barnes’ former players in alleged cheating situations in the classroom.
Texas’ athletic director has said there’s no evidence Barnes knew of any possible wrongdoing.
And now Barnes has spoken out on this, essentially washing his hands of it and showing no signs of any bad news to come. At least, nothing that can implicate him.
“If you read the article, from my point of view, there’s no legs to it,” Barnes said on a media teleconference call Monday, referencing the Chronicle’s story. “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). The fact it has no legs, I’m not really concerned about it.”
Martez Walker, P.J. Tucker and J’Covan Brown are the former UT players named in the story. Their methods of alleged cheating came in different ways and at different points over the past nine years. Unlike the North Carolina scandal, which involved staff members, tutors, department chairs and a culture of widespread academic fraud, the Texas case appears to be a few players perhaps trying to get by on their own nefarious means (if said nefarious behavior even definitively happened).
“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 added. “If I did make a statement, it would have been that I hate for 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?'”
All this came about while Texas managed to be one of 16 programs to land a perfect, 1,000 multi-year APR score in the NCAA’s latest annual report.