July 9, 2010
I'll reiterate what I wrote in the release that it's a privilege, not a right, to be a member of this football team and be a member of the University of Tennessee football team.
I am disappointed and embarrassed in many ways by the lapses of judgment by several members of our football team last night. And there were numerous lapses of judgment.
What's important to know is that our standard of conduct is much greater than what the legal standard is. I've met with every player who was there, and I've made a few decisions on some things that have in no way any bearing on the legal part of it, and I think that's important to know that.
We have dismissed Darren Myles from our football team. We have indefinitely suspended Marlon Walls and Greg King. There's other actions that were taken internally, and there's also a period where we're continuing to find out exactly what happened just like everybody else because as you know, it takes time to gather all the information from all the parties involved.
What is important is to know is that just because I suspended somebody doesn't necessarily mean they broke the law. It's no different than any day-to-day issue where we deal with discipline and behavioral issues.
What I will say is that there's been a lot of positive things happen in our program in the last few months and a lot of positive changes in our culture internally with some of our players, with our team, and we're not going to let this incident ruin the positive changes that are happening. We're going to continue to build our structures so that we educate, we discipline, we support our players and at the end of the day we're going to have a culture here that's not just going to win but our fans will be proud of how we represent them.
So at the end of the day, I'm disappointed like we all are, and I'm embarrassed like many of us and like many of our fans. We're going to take action, and we're going to be swift about it and then we're going to move on.
On Darren Myles:
I'm just dismissing him. I never overreact on an incident when I make decisions and I always consider all the sides and all the facts and history and all that stuff. In light of his history, we just feel like it's like I said it's a privilege to be on this team.
On his message to the team:
It was a very similar message and a similar talk that we've had before about how important our team wants to change our brand and how we represent this place and that we really set us back.
It's no different than your character. You could spend 20 years building your character, and one bad mistake, you can destroy it. So we've got to start over and rebuild and we'll do that. We've got a lot of great leaders on this team who were really disappointed in some of the other guys on the team. And it expect them to all rally and handle it the right way.
On the role of a character education coordinator within the program:
That's part of the educational component, and that's what I believe. I believe it takes education. Defining what's right and wrong. Defining how to make...
I have this boo,k and it's a great book. I read it to my children. It's called 'Sticky Situations,' and it's essentially a daily, I don't want to say devotional but it's a set of facts every day that you find yourself in and you have a decision on how you're going to handle A, B, C. Jimmy's at school. Fred comes up and throws his books on the ground. What should Jimmy do?
Simple stuff. Right and wrong stuff. It's a great book, and that's part of the educating of how to act when you find yourself in a sticky situation, there's a lot of ways you can go and understand what the consequences are when you go a certain way. That's the educational component.
And that's the component Andre (Lott brings). We're creating this Vol for Life program, and it's essentially about turning pro. Not NFL. VFL. Everybody has to be a Vol for life. It's centered around several components and one of them's character education and that's what we're talking about here. Educating them on the importance of character, right and wrong and we're going to continue to do that. We're still shaping that program, and then there's other components are going into life skills and career development and that sort of thing. But that's a critical part of the program, and it goes to the educational component.
On the culture at Tennessee:
I think that a lot of the culture is probably perceived worse than it is, and it always it is because we have some great young men who want to do right and who are doing right.
But there has been enough incidents to know that we can't just stick our head in the sand and say, `Oh, we're really OK. Just one or two guys did this.' I don't ever stick my head in the sand, and we take responsibility for it and we're going to continue to change it. I don't know how you define it. I just know it's not where it needs to be.
On losing Darren Myles on the field:
It hurts our team. A lot of people get hurt when you do things that aren't right. And it's not just Darren who's hurt. I had to sit there and watch his mother cry who's hurt and his family is hurt. I know his father's hurt. And I know his hometown is probably disappointed. Our team is hurt. He's got a lot of friends on our team. We're going to be hurt by it on the field competitively.
So a lot of people are hurt by it. And that's what makes the decisions tough. But at the end of the day, sometimes you have to fall really hard to really get it. We want to be able to change everybody, but I think the reality is -- and we've seen it -- there's been a lot of headlines here in a lot of areas where sometimes you got to get hit really hard to be able to figure it out.
On sifting through the process:
That's how I've always done it. I know what's right and wrong. I know when you're charged with something that doesn't necessarily mean you've done something terrible. And I know we are not charged with something you could have done something really not good from a judgment standpoint.
And so I'm always going to navigate it with that standard in mind of what's right and wrong. The guys that didn't do what's right are going to take some consequences, and the consequences that they take are all going to be relative to their lapse in judgment and how wrong they were and what the damage that was done.
So it does appear odd, I guess, when you see it. But I can only go by my initial conversations with the players, and they were very forthcoming as I expected them to be and hopefully humbled in many ways.