The dead period

Based on a recent article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Tennessee basketball signee Chris Jones was upset that new head coach Cuonzo Martin didn't contact him immediately after accepting the Vol reins.

Some Tennessee basketball fans were upset, too, figuring Martin dropped the ball by not immediately reaching out to the young man some observers view as the Vols' point guard in waiting.

It seems Cuonzo Martin had a valid reason for not contacting Jones, though. According to UT's compliance department, such contact during a so-called "dead period" would have violated NCAA rules. That's not a good idea, especially when your school just fired its entire coaching staff for violating NCAA rules.

Even after reading the NCAA rules regarding dead-period contact between coach and prospect several times, I had no idea how that rule applied to Jones and Kevin Ware, Tennessee's two November, 2010 signees. That's why I emailed several questions to the UT basketball office that were forwarded to the compliance department for clarification.

Below are the questions I asked, followed by the responses from the compliance office:

- Is a coach restricted from contacting a signee during a so-called "dead period" or does that apply only to unsigned prospects?

The only permissible contact with a signee during a dead period would be an unofficial on-campus visit. So, Chris Jones could technically make an unofficial visit here to campus during a dead period, and that would be permissible. No other form of contact with a signee during a dead period is permissible; even after they sign with a school, kids are still considered "prospects" until they actually enroll.

- If a signed player (i.e. Chris Jones) gets a release, do the "dead period" rules apply to him again?

Yes. If he gets a release, he goes back into the same category as all other prospects in his graduating class and the normal rules apply.

- Has UT released Kevin Ware and Chris Jones from the scholarships they signed in November?

Ware has been released. Jones has not been released.

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