KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) A Knoxville police officer who called Tennessee football coach Butch Jones during a rape investigation involving his players will no longer serve as the police department's liaison to the football team.
Knoxville police chief David Rausch said Wednesday that Sam Brown was removed from that assignment ''as a result of the reported concerns'' about the relationship between the football program and the police department. Rausch said Brown had served as the department's liaison to the Tennessee football program for the past 19 years and that his role included providing security for the head coach, team and staff.
''In order for the program to move on and avoid further undue scrutiny, it was agreed that we should make the transition at this time,'' Rausch said in a statement.
Knoxville radio station WNML first reported the decision.
Rausch emphasized ''this move is not the result of anything that Officer Brown has done or not done.''
''He is a man of great integrity and has been a dedicated public servant to the Knoxville community,'' Rausch said.
Phone records released in March show that Jones received calls from Brown and Rausch the morning of Nov. 16, 2014, hours after a woman said she was raped. Jones spoke to A.J. Johnson, a linebacker on his team at the time, a few minutes after receiving the initial call from Brown.
Johnson and defensive back Michael Williams were suspended from the team Nov. 17, 2014, and were identified as suspects the following day. They were indicted on aggravated rape charges in February 2015, and their cases are still pending.
Knoxville police announced in April they were ending their practice of making courtesy calls to Tennessee coaches about incidents involving their players ''in the interest of transparency and to alleviate any appearance of conflict of interest.'' They said that ''going forward, in any incident involving a student at the university,'' police would make formal notification only to the school's law enforcement officials.
Rausch said Wednesday that Brown has been on the city's two-year delayed-retirement program since February 2015 and has a final service date effective Jan. 31.
''He has been a mentor and guide to the young men in the program and has provided excellent professional service to those involved in the program,'' Rausch said.
Rausch said Knoxville police would continue to ''provide support and serve the safety and security needs'' for the football program in partnership with the University of Tennessee police department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.