According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tennessee forward Renaldo Woolridge received exclusive access to the upstairs portion of a Knoxville bar at no charge early Sunday morning in order to shoot his latest rap video. Not making Woolridge pay to lease the room could be an NCAA violation if it's a benefit unavailable to other students.
The timing of what would otherwise be a fairly innocuous violation is what makes this news potentially damaging for Tennessee. The men's basketball program is one of three prominent programs at the school already being investigated by the NCAA, along with football and baseball.
The focus of the investigation into the men's basketball program is coach Bruce Pearl making excessive phone calls to recruits and lying to investigators about photos of him and recruits, whom he improperly hosted at his home in 2008. Pearl is currently serving an eight-game suspension handed down by the SEC, but the NCAA is expected to issue further penalties later this year.
Woolridge, who goes by the rap name "Swiperboy," has shot numerous videos since enrolling at Tennessee in 2008, from a remix of Rocky Top to a university-sponsored promotion during safety Eric Berry's Heisman campaign in 2009. In a video blog shot on Tennessee's flight to Connecticut on Thursday night, he promotes an upcoming video shoot for his latest single, "Snap Back."
It's unclear how much it typically would have cost to lease the room at the Knoxville bar for the night, but recent cases suggest Woolridge may have to serve a brief suspension if the value exceeded $100. Kansas State seniors Curtis Kelly and Jacob Pullen sat out six and three games respectively for accepting a discount at a local department store.
Any penalty to Woolridge would probably be more damaging from a public relations perspective than on the court. The junior is averaging 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in nine minutes per game this season.