Coach Butch Jones says Tennessee has 'done the right things'

ByBrett McMurphy ESPN logo
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. -- Tennessee coach Butch Jones, whose school is facing a Title IX lawsuit, defended his program Tuesday at the SEC spring meetings.

Last week, Baylor coach Art Briles was fired and university president Kenneth Starr was stripped of his title after outside law firm Pepper Hamilton's investigation found that school officials mishandled and covered up sexual assault allegations. On Monday, Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw resigned.

"I'm not into comparisons," Jones said when asked how the situations differed at Baylor and Tennessee. "All I can speak on is the University of Tennessee. I feel strongly as everybody in our organization that we've done the right things. I'm proud of the culture that we have built."

Jones added that his father was a chief of police for 37 years, an uncle was a law enforcement officer, and he has a "great deal" of friends within the FBI.

In March, reported that Jones had two telephone conversations with former Volunteers receiver Drae Bowleson the same day a woman said two Tennessee players sexually assaulted her.

Bowles stated in an affidavit that he was attacked by teammates for helping the woman, a former UT student-athlete. Bowles, who transferred to UT-Chattanooga after the 2014 season, also said that Jones told him he "betrayed the team" by helping the woman.

In February, a Title IX lawsuit was filed against Tennessee by eight women. Seven of the women claimed that UT men's basketball and football players sexually assaulted them. The women claimed the athletics department created a hostile environment and favored athletes, particularly football players, in its investigations and student judiciary process.

Former Tennessee players A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams were indicted for sexually assaulting the woman whom Bowles helped. Johnson and Williams were suspended from UT's football team the day after the woman reported the rape.

Jones was asked Tuesday if Tennessee conducts background checks on potential recruits.

"Everything is about giving a young man an opportunity," Jones said. "Every circumstance, every situation is different. But we're all parents. We try to be as proactive as possible with our background checks.

"Make no mistake about it: The first thing in our recruiting profile is character."