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Tennessee sex scandal could grow quickly if academics are involved

Senior point guard Trae Golden's transfer isn't the only issue facing Tennessee athletics. (Wade Payne/AP) Senior point guard Trae Golden's transfer isn't the only issue facing Tennessee athletics. (Wade Payne/AP)

A week after Tennessee abruptly announced that rising senior point guard Trae Golden was transferring from the school, with reports of academic impropriety possibly at the root of it, the school may have a related and seemingly bigger issue on its hands.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Monday that the university fired Director of Student Judicial Affairs Jenny Wright for not cooperating with an investigation into whether she conducted inappropriate relationships with student-athletes. The paper wrote that Wright attempted to resign from her position last Thursday, but the school did not accept the resignation because of the ongoing investigation. The university offered for Wright to come in yesterday morning to discuss her status, and when she declined, she was fired. According to a local TV report, Wright was terminated for unsatisfactory work-related behavior, per an email from the school's Provost on Monday.

As for whom was involved in Wright's alleged indiscretions, there are multiple reports that one of the athletes was Golden. Local radio host Jimmy Hyams is one of those who has publicly named Golden.

While Golden's father gave a generic denial of the plagiarism allegations, it make sense that if that's what Golden was accused of, he and Wright would have been in contact. Tennessee's Office of Judicial Affairs, which Wright oversaw, would handle allegations of academic impropriety and its website has a specific link discussing plagiarism.

Where this goes from here is anyone's guess, with Hyams also tweeting that a second athlete has been found to be involved with Wright. The biggest concern here for the Volunteers is that Wright was conducting or helping mask academic impropriety for basketball players. A sordid sex scandal is newsworthy enough, but if academic cheating is involved as an undercurrent, this may have much grander implications for the program and the university.
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