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Chattanooga Times Free Press (Tennessee)
KNOXVILLE — When Tennessee men's basketball coach Rick Barnes used his own money to bring an assistant coach's salary up to par with others on staff last year, he ran afoul of NCAA rules.
Tennessee reported five minor rules violations to the NCAA in the second half of 2017, including the Level III violation by Barnes, who believed one of his assistants deserved a raise. Barnes provided "personal funds" to the assistant on two occasions, according to the Tennessee athletic department's report of the incident.
"The head coach's intentions were pure," the report reads. "He simply felt that the assistant coach's salary was deficient and -- unable to secure a salary pool increase under his former supervisor -- he generously took money out of his own pocket to supplement the assistant coach's salary to what he believed was warranted based on the assistant coach's contribution, skills and experience."
The assistant coach has since received a salary increase equaling what Barnes thought the assistant should make, according to the report. Once athletic department administrators learned of the payments, Barnes was told to stop making them. A letter of education was provided to Barnes and additional education provided on the issue.
The Southeastern Conference and NCAA took no further action on the matter.
The assistant coach who Barnes provided the supplemental pay to is Desmond Oliver, according to a report from USA Today Network Tennessee, which was first to report on the violations. Oliver is a veteran assistant in Division I basketball. He has been on the Volunteers' staff since Barnes was hired in 2015.
The NCAA generally considers Level III and Level IV violations to be minor. Most of the other violations reported by Tennessee in the second half of 2017 were minor recruiting violations from a variety of sports. They were handled with institutional action and not addressed further by the SEC or NCAA.
Contact David Cobb at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.
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